Nova Scotia's top doc says schools are still safe, parents push for asymptomatic testing

There are currently 231 active COVID-19 cases in Nova Scotia. Sixteen people are in hospital in the province, with four of them in the ICU.

"We're certainly at a place where it's manageable. We're not seeing substantive pressures on the health care system," said Dr. Robert Strang, Nova Scotia’s chief medical officer of health.

Strang says the majority of cases being linked to schools in the province are people who have been exposed to the virus in the community. It is unclear exactly how many of the 231 active COVID-19 cases are linked to public schools in the province.               

"We have a couple of schools where there's been some spread within a couple of classrooms. But we have no schools where there's wide spread throughout the schools," said Strang.

Paul Wozney, the president of the Nova Scotia Teachers Union says there are three schools in the Halifax area where attendance is being seriously impacted.

"At Duc d'Anville school in Fairview, there are multiple cases that have been ordered to self-isolate for however long, and daily attendance in the building is down below half," Wozney.

Strang said Monday about two per cent of the school population at Duc d'Anville Elementary has tested positive for the virus.

Wozney said government reporting only shows COVID exposures, not the number of cases at particular schools.

"How safe do people feel when they're going into a building where you don't know how many cases there are," said Wozney.

The group Nova Scotia Parents for Public Education sent out a press release Monday indicating that the volunteer parent group is gravely concerned about the government’s current approach to COVID-19 in schools.

Spokesperson Stacey Rudderham said there seems to be a different standard in place now for schools than there was in the spring.

"We think one of the things that they could do in these schools that have multiple cases is do a fire break and close the school for a number of days," she said.

Rudderham would like to see government bring back asymptomatic testing and open up rapid testing sites across the province.

"When the notices are going out to close contacts they're told that if they're double vaxxed they don't need to get tested, that they should just watch for symptoms. And we know that not everyone who has COVID is symptomatic. So we think anyone who is a close contact should absolutely get tested," she said.

Meantime, Strang said enhanced measures have been put in place at some Nova Scotia schools.

"Our schools really are still showing themselves to be safe. We're not seeing them as major places of transmission of the virus. Even in the midst of the fourth wave," said Strang.