Mask mandate drops in Nova Scotia public schools Tuesday

When Nova Scotia students return to public schools on Tuesday, after the Victoria Day long weekend, wearing masks will be optional.

"I haven’t been to school since Grade 10 without masks and I am a senior," says Jenna Kedy, a Grade 12 student.

Kedy is fully vaccinated and is also immunosuppressed.

"It terrifies me, I’m very scared to get COVID and I have been since the beginning," she says.

Despite that, Kedy says she is ready for masks to come off.

"I think we’re coming to a consensus that I think we need to continue to live our lives even though there’s some devastating effects from that. I just think we need to kind of move on a little and live with it," says Kedy.

Halifax's IWK Health Centre successfully lobbied the province to keep the mandate when they previously planned to drop it.

Though it won't happen this time, the hospital is encouraging students and staff to keep their masks on.

"Our IWK emergency department and inpatient wards are experiencing extremely high volumes, and we still have staffing challenges because of COVID. Our group is concerned about the resulting impact on our pediatric health care system," says Dr. Andrew Lynk, pediatrics chair at the IWK Health Centre.

The president of the Nova Scotia Teacher's Union says the membership is split on the issue. Paul Wozney raises some concerns that the weakened system might break.

"We were already in the middle of a substitute teacher crisis before Omicron and that's just been made worse. So, I think we're worried. Masking, really, has been the only layer of real protection in schools since November and we’ve barely been able to keep the doors open on a day-to-day basis," says Wozney.