COVID-19 Press Releases

Provincial State of Emergency

On 22 March 2020, the Government of Nova Scotia declared a provincial state of emergency to help contain the spread of COVID-19. The state of emergency has been extended until noon on 6 September 2020.

https://novascotia.ca/coronavirus/docs/Ministers-renewal-Aug-23-Sept-6.pdf

Nova Scotia’s Back to School Plan

Nova Scotia’s Back to School Plan will be updated to mandate non-medical mask use for students in Grades 4 to 12 while in school.

All students in Grades 4 to 12 will be required to wear a mask inside schools, except if they are seated at their desks while two metres apart and facing in the same direction. They must also be worn in hallways and other common areas if a two-metre distance can’t be maintained.

Students who travel by bus will now need to wear their mask until they get off the bus and can clean their hands and safely store their mask.
Additional measures and information for families include:

✅ A school-by-school ventilation assessment will take place to ensure equipment is operating properly and in good condition, and that windows can be opened.
✅ Masks and hand-sanitizer are starting to arrive at schools. All students and staff will receive two cloth masks. Disposable masks will also be available if a student forgets, loses, or soils their mask during the school day.
✅ Resources for families and students are currently available at novascotia.ca/backtoschool with more to be added.
✅ Regional Centres for Education and the Conseil scolaire acadien provincial, will continue to communicate with families and principals will reach out to families with specific information about their school closer to September.
✅ Before and After School Programs will be offered in accordance with public health guidelines that are currently in development.
✅ Schools, with the support of public health, will notify families as soon as they become aware of a COVID-19 case in their school, along with what measures will need to be taken.
✅ A Return to Sport school sports schedule and protocols are in the final stage of development and will be communicated to schools by the Nova Scotia School Athletic Federation.

For more information on post-secondary education, prevention plans and pre-primary program please visit https://novascotia.ca/coronavirus/education/

Province Announces Mandatory Masks in Indoor Public Places

Premier Stephen McNeil and Dr. Robert Strang, chief medical officer of health for Nova Scotia, announced today, July 24, that masks will become mandatory in most indoor public places starting July 31.

“As we open our economy, our schools and our communities, we must continue to be vigilant to minimize the impact of a second wave of COVID-19,” said Premier McNeil. “Wearing a non-medical mask in most indoor public places is a key part of how we protect each other and support our local businesses so they can stay open for the long run.”

Indoor public places include:

  • retail businesses
  • shopping centres
  • personal services businesses such as hair and nail salons, spas, body art facilities, except during services that require removing a mask
  • restaurants and bars, except while people are eating or drinking
  • places of worship or faith gatherings
  • places for cultural or entertainment services or activities such as movie theatres, concerts and other performances
  • places for sports and recreational activities such as a gym, pool or indoor tennis facility, except while doing an activity where a mask cannot be worn
  • places for events such as conferences and receptions
  • municipal or provincial government locations offering services to the public
  • common areas of tourist accommodations such as lobbies, elevators and hallways
  • common areas of office buildings such as lobbies, elevators and hallways, but not private offices
  • public areas of a university or college campus, such as library or student union building, but not classrooms, labs, offices or residences
  • train or bus stations, ferry terminals and airports
  • Children under two are exempt, as well as children aged two to four when their caregiver cannot get them to wear a mask. People with a valid medical reason for not wearing a mask are exempt. Schools, daycares and day camps continue to follow their reopening plans.

People are asked to use their own masks. Government will help with initial supplies of masks for people who cannot bring their own.

“Nova Scotians have made a habit of all the other core public health measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and now it’s time to also make a habit of wearing a non-medical mask in most indoor public settings,” said Dr. Strang. “I have confidence that Nova Scotians will do the right thing and take care of each other by wearing masks in these settings.”

Students Return to School in September

Public school students across the province will return to class on Tuesday, Sept 8.

The back to school plan is supported by public health, the IWK Health Centre and education partners.

“Children need safe and supportive learning environments and that means being back in school with their peers,” said Zach Churchill, Minister of Education and Childhood Development.” Our plan supports the full, safe return of students and staff, while allowing us to adapt how students will learn if anything changes.”

Developed with survey feedback from more than 28,000 parents and students, and input from union and education partners, the plan outlines public health guidelines and enhanced safety measures for students and staff. It also includes measures to enhance student learning.

“Our current epidemiology shows that virus activity remains low in the province and education leaders have developed a plan with appropriate public health measures for returning to the classroom,” said Dr. Robert Strang, chief medical officer of health. “I’m comfortable with our schools reopening and my public health team and I will continue to work with education leaders to keep our students, teachers and other school staff safe.”

While overall, learning at-home during the spring went well, parents said there were some challenges, like access to technology. Government has invested $4 million to secure 14,000 computers to support student learning for those with limited or no access to technology.

In September, students, families and staff can expect:Regional Centres for Education and the Conseil scolaire acadien provincial will have plans to support enhanced cleaning, physical distancing and situations specific to schools in their area

  • classrooms to be reorganized to increase spacing
  • treating a class as a bubble, to minimize contact with other students
  • enhanced cleaning on school buses. All school bus riders and drivers will need to wear a mask
  • all staff and students in high school will be required to wear a mask in school spaces where social distancing is not possible, for example hallways and common areas. Students and staff do not have to wear a mask in class, unless they want to, or if they are working with a student whose individual program plan requires a mask be worn
  • regular handwashing or hand sanitizing by students and staff before entering school for classes and throughout the day
  • in-school assemblies and other large gatherings will not be permitted
  • cafeterias and school food programs will deliver food to students. Students will eat lunch at their desks
  • students will have the opportunity to engage in all subject areas, although some subject areas may look different

The plan includes contingencies if it becomes necessary to adjust based on public health advice.

Province Easing Visitor Restrictions in Long-term Care, Homes for Persons With Disabilities

Premier Stephen McNeil and Dr. Robert Strang, chief medical officer of health, announced today, June 10, the easing of some visitor restrictions in long-term care homes and homes for persons with disabilities .

Effective Monday, June 15, visits can resume at long-term care facilities, provided they happen outdoors and visitors stay two metres or six feet away from residents and staff.

This change also applies to homes funded by the Department of Community Services under the Homes for Special Care Act.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has been challenging for all of us but in many ways, it has been hardest on our seniors in nursing homes and those living in homes for persons with disabilities,” said Premier McNeil. “That’s why we are easing visitor restrictions while keeping many of our public health directives in place to protect our most vulnerable.”

Individual long-term care facilities and homes for persons with disabilities will communicate directly with residents and their families to arrange visits.

“I can only imagine how tough it has been for long-term care residents and participants in homes for persons with disabilities to not be able to connect with their loved ones,” said Dr. Strang. “Outdoor visits are a way to bring residents and their friends and families back together safely.”

To ensure resident and visitor safety, the following measures will be in place:

  • visits will only take place outdoors, in designated areas on the facility’s grounds
  • a maximum of two visitors may attend at one time
  • visitors must maintain physical distance of two metres or six feet
  • visitors must be screened for COVID-19 upon entry and wear a non-medical mask; anyone with symptoms will not be permitted to enter
  • visitor information must be logged, including date and time of visit to the facility
  • visitors who are self-isolating are not permitted to enter the facility or grounds
  • visits will be monitored by staff, who will escort visitors to the designated area and provide personal protective equipment if needed

Facilities will be provided with materials to support this change, including screening guidelines and staff education materials.

Guidelines to Support Safe Community Celebration of Graduates

Communities will be able to celebrate their 2020 graduates this year, provided they are led by an established organization and follow public health guidelines to ensure celebrations are safe.

Dr. Robert Strang, chief medical officer of health for Nova Scotia, announced today, June 5, an exemption under the Public Health Act order to allow community organizations, businesses or municipalities to hold celebrations to recognize graduates due to the loss of traditional graduation ceremonies.

All public high schools in Nova Scotia will recognize and honour Grade 12 graduates receiving diplomas. This will be separate from any celebrations that might be held in the community.

All non-school based, community celebrations of graduates must be held by a recognized business, municipality or community organization (like a club, association, society, volunteer group, faith-based group), and the local municipality, police and fire departments and EHS must be informed and supportive of the planned event.

“Graduation ceremonies are an important tradition not only for the students who worked so hard to get there, but for their loved ones who supported them along the way,” said Premier Stephen McNeil. “The class of 2020 is moving on from high school during a unique time and while their festivities will look different this year, there are ways to celebrate safely. Congratulations to all of the graduates of 2020. I know the last few months of school looked quite a bit different, but I hope you’re proud of all you’ve accomplished.”

“Living with COVID-19 continues to be a balance for us all. Unfortunately, students leaving school this year won’t have a traditional graduation ceremony or prom,” said Dr. Strang. “We want to support communities in recognizing these students, but it’s vital these celebrations are done safely, without risking the health of participants.”

Conditions under the exemption include:

  • attendees must arrive in a vehicle
  • all passengers in the vehicle must be from a single household or household bubble
  • graduates can be out of their vehicle to do things like cross a stage or take part in a parade of graduates as long as physical distance (two metres or six feet) is maintained between all graduates while they are out of their vehicle
  • organizers must communicate clearly with attendees in advance and ensure other public health protocols, like physical distancing, are followed

A full list of the conditions and protocols under this exemption can be found at https://novascotia.ca/coronavirus/community-celebration-graduates .