Nova Scotia parents are now being told they have to show proof of vaccination to enter their own children’s schools, but the policy it’s based on exempts parents explicitly.
Concerned parents sent True North an email from the South Shore Regional Centre for Education (SSRCE), one of Nova Scotia’s eight public school boards. The email informed parents that “as of Dec. 1, 2021, all visitors (non-SSRCE staff), parents and/or suppliers who come to a school, or SSRCE building, must provide full proof of vaccination (or a medical exception).”
True North looked into the vaccination policy for parents and discovered that it appears on none of the school boards’ websites or social media accounts.
The SSRCE’s notice included a link to the “provincial proof of vaccination policy,” but nothing on the government page mentions the requirement that parents be vaccinated to visit their children’s schools. Nor do the new measures put in place on Monday due to fears about the Omicron variant.
The linked government web page mentions a single situation where vaccination is required at a school by non-employees – “indoor and outdoor extracurricular school-based activities, including sports.” This requirement puts Nova Scotia on the same page as other Canadian school boards that have mandated vaccines for athletics, most recently Peel.
True North reached out to the SSRCE and was told the requirement for parents to show proof of vaccination was a provincial policy. Spokesperson Ashley Gallant also reminded True North that “as of (Monday), there have been enhanced public health restrictions introduced throughout the province and there are only essential visitors permitted in our schools now.”
These enhanced restrictions are to be reassessed in January, however. The timeline for the new proof-of-vaccination for parents is a different matter.
Lynette MacLeod with the Government of Nova Scotia confirmed to True North that “POV (proof of vaccination) is necessary.” When told that the linked government web page doesn’t include the vaccine policy for parents, she provided a link to a 19-page document titled “COVID-19 Mandatory Vaccination Protocol in High-Risk Settings.”
The document specifically exempts the parents of children under 19.
The government document defines schools as “high-risk settings” along with hospitals, prisons, and long-term care homes. “Schools” are mentioned twelfth on the list, and the word is buried amidst legalese involving “Education Entities.” It is also the only occurrence of “schools” in the entire document.
Caregivers who come to these facilities are required to be vaccinated, but according to the same document “’Designated Care Giver’ means a person … other than the parent or legal guardian of a minor, as defined in the Age of Majority Act.”
That age, according to the Act, is 19.
Teachers in Nova Scotia had to have at least one COVID shot by November 30 to keep getting paid, but it has never been announced that parents coming to schools to see their kids have needed the shots.
Nova Scotia children can also be vaccinated without their parents’ consent, according to the province’s Department of Health and Wellness. Officials confirmed the policy to True North in November.