Elaine McGrath says even if coronavirus safety measures are lifted, going back to school this year isn’t an option for her son, who’s battling cancer.
“There’s no way to social distance and he’s already fighting a battle for his life,” said McGrath, from the Middle Musquodoboit area.
Her 16-year-old son Julien was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia in September 2018. Since then, he has been in and out of school while receiving treatment.
This February Julien was also diagnosed with respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) and has been home-bound schooling since then.
Living in Middle Musquodoboit, McGrath says she is happy with how their school has organized online learning. His teachers meet with him over video chat and quickly respond to his emails.
McGrath says Julien has recently recovered from RSV, but he is still immunocompromised. Because of that, he will not be going back to school until there are no cases in the province. She believes it is in everyone’s best interest to stay at home.
“Putting anyone’s life in the line of fire is, to me, just not worth it.”
During Tuesday’s COVID-19 press briefing, Premier Stephen McNeil said schools in Nova Scotia will remain closed at least until the May long weekend.
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The province said the decision to keep students at home will be reassessed leading up to Victoria Day, leaving the door open to a possible return.
Melanie Smiley, a mother of three, says she will not be sending her children to school this year, regardless of the province’s upcoming decision.
Paul Wozney, president of the Nova Scotia Teachers Union (NSTU), says as of now, there is no indication that schools will reopen, so staff and parents should not have these concerns yet.
“While I appreciate the alarm, there is no basis for it.”
He believes Nova Scotians worries have been sparked by Quebec’s decisions to start opening schools.
“If and when a return to school is best for Nova Scotia, we will work that out through dialogue and collaboration with the government,” Wozney said.
Wozney says these decisions will rely on the public health authority when the time comes. Right now, the NSTU’s focus is supporting graduating students and providing feedback to parents and students.
Even so, parents are concerned that no final decisions have been made.
Melanie Smiley still hopes schools close until September, not only for her family’s safety but to give staff enough time to prepare. “We need help with what kind of protocols to put in place. We need more time.”
Global News has reached out to the Nova Scotia Health Authority and is awaiting comment.
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