Most Nova Scotia students are now scheduled to return to class on January 10, a few days later than the previously scheduled return date of January 6.

Education Minister Becky Druhan said on Tuesday that the extended vacation would give families more time to monitor symptoms of COVID-19 and make appointments for vaccines.

It will also give schools time to keep classrooms safe by removing extra furniture to leave more space and ensuring staff are aware of the latest public health protocols.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has been stressful, and I understand that we are all tired,” Druhan said in a briefing Tuesday afternoon.

“Parents, teachers and even students can have concerns about going back to school. Public health has assured us that schools remain safe. “

School staff will report to work January 4-7, and the Learning Resource Centers will reopen on January 4, except at the Chignecto-Central Regional Education Center, where they will open on January 5.

Public health measures in schools

Due to the surge in COVID-19 cases and changes to public health contact tracing protocols, contact tracing for school cases will no longer take place. Students who are ill or in close contact with a known case should stay home and follow public health advice.

Dr Robert Strang, the province’s chief medical officer of health, said testing is now focused on those most at risk for serious illness and hospitalization.

“We are extending this method to schools because COVID-19 is generally a mild illness for children,” he said.

Strang has so far said there have been no cases of children hospitalized with COVID-19 in the province.

When classes resume, no non-essential visitors will be allowed into schools, there will be no large gatherings or events, and a strict cohort will be implemented.

All staff and students will be provided with a three-ply fabric mask and all students will be advised to wear it or equivalent. Masks must be worn indoors at all times, except when eating or drinking.

The province plans to distribute faster tests to students, depending on the availability of federal government supplies. More information will be provided to families the week of January 4.

Strang said immunizing children and anyone eligible for a booster is important protection for children, adding that about 40% of eligible children aged 5 to 11 in the province have yet to start their streak. primary vaccine.

Parents still have concerns

Stacey Rudderham, administrator of the Nova Scotia Parents for Public Education group, said the organization agrees that the best thing for students is face-to-face learning, but there are still concerns about ventilation, vaccinations and health advisories. ‘exposure.

“It’s worrying that we kind of continue to believe that kids aren’t as affected by COVID as others because it doesn’t seem to be anymore,” she said in an interview with CBC.

She said reminders are currently isolated for age groups and some teachers have not been able to obtain them.

Rudderham said that at the end of the day parents want to be informed and it is important to know that teachers can be in the classroom and that there is no shortage that forces substitutes in and out. of style.

“Consistency is important.”

During Tuesday’s briefing, Strang responded to a question about ventilation in schools saying it was only part of a layered response to COVID-19 and that they had done what they had done. could to update the ventilation.

“We are not going to stop the spread”

Nova Scotia has been hit by a spike in new COVID-19 cases in the past two weeks, with a peak of 689 new cases reported on December 23.

Strang said he hopes Nova Scotia has reached the peak of the Omicron wave, but the province has yet to see a real drop in cases.

“We’re not going to stop the spread of this variant like we’ve done in other waves,” Strang said. “Our goal now is to slow it down to protect our most vulnerable.”

Strang said hospitalizations had increased moderately and the number of healthcare workers on sick leave due to a positive test or close contact “is a fundamental problem.”

“It creates pressure. There is no doubt about it.”

Strang said there is often a two to three week lag between a peak in cases and hospitalizations.

Nova Scotia reported 561 cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday.

Among the new cases, 430 cases are in the central zone, 54 cases in the east zone, 39 cases in the north zone and 38 cases in the west zone.

As of Friday, there were 15 people hospitalized, including four in intensive care. The province did not update this number this week.

Some hospitals restrict access

Two Cape Breton hospitals have put in place visitor restrictions to help control the spread of COVID-19.

Restrictions at Glace Bay Hospital and Inverness Consolidated Memorial Hospital began on December 27 and will continue until January 3, 2022.

At Glace Bay Hospital, inpatients will only be entitled to one regular visitor. One designated support person per day continues for:

  • Palliative care and other patients at the end of life.
  • Patients receiving medical assistance in dying.
  • Outpatients, including patients arriving at the hospital for ambulatory care clinics, appointments, or procedures who need support in receiving care due to physical, intellectual, cognitive and emotional conditions.
  • Patients requiring support for critical treatment decisions such as organ transplantation, initiation of hemodialysis at the discretion of the clinical team.

At Inverness Consolidated Memorial Hospital, inpatients are not permitted to receive visitors except for one designated support person per day for:

  • Palliative care and other patients at the end of life.
  • Patients receiving medical assistance in dying.
  • Outpatients, including patients arriving at the hospital for emergency and outpatient visits, appointments or procedures who need support to receive care due to physical, intellectual, cognitive conditions and emotional.
  • Children under 18 seeking treatment and / or hospitalized.
  • Patients requiring support for critical treatment decisions such as organ transplantation, initiation of hemodialysis at the discretion of the clinical team.

Small outbreaks have been reported recently in hospitals across the province, including the Halifax Infirmary, Dartmouth General Hospital and St. Martha’s Regional Hospital in Antigonish, Nova Scotia.

Also on Tuesday, the province announced that the Cumberland Regional Health Care Center in Amherst would close the Women’s and Children’s Unit overnight on December 28 and 29.

Atlantic Canada Case Numbers

  • New Brunswick reported 306 new cases on Tuesday. There are 38 people hospitalized, including 13 in intensive care.
  • Newfoundland and Labrador reported 357 new cases on Tuesday, a record. There are now 843 active cases in the province. No one is in the hospital.
  • Prince Edward Island reported 118 new cases on Tuesday, a record. The province now has 410 active cases and no hospitalizations. The province said it is also limiting COVID-19 testing to symptomatic people, close contacts and those who have tested positive beforehand with a rapid test or at a point of entry.