N.B. government looking at ways to mitigate spread of COVID-19 in schools
Another 10 cases of COVID-19 have been found in schools or child-care facilities in New Brunswick, the province confirmed Wednesday.
Six schools across the province had operational days Wednesday, which means either all the students or specific groups learned from home.
There’s a lot to juggle in making those decisions, says Anglophone West School District superintendent David McTimoney.
“Such as are cases spread out among a number of different classes? Is there an impact with extracurricular activities or school teams? Is there an impact on the bus? What’s the impact within the community if kids are not in school?” he said.
McTimoney said they’re watching two schools in particular: Park Street and Gibson Neill. Both elementary schools are closed until Monday with students learning online.
He said the school district will leave it to the department and public health as to if all schools should move online in the new year.
“I anticipate or expect that those conversations have probably started and when it’s my turn to provide input, I certainly will,” said McTimoney.
Education minister Dominic Cardy said they are looking at a range of measures to halt the virus in schools.
“I’m not going to get into them because the last thing I want to do is create more confusion when people are already and understandably confused by two years of regulations that have changed as we’ve had to face the fact that the disease has changed,” said Cardy.
According to the province, about 80 per cent of active cases within schools are in elementary schools.
People’s Alliance leader Kris Austin is against the idea of moving all schools online until the new year.
But the Liberal education critic said it’s something that should be considered if things get worse.
“We want to make sure that children keep learning, but at the same time we want them to stay safe. So it’s striking that balance between all of that, and all options need to be on the table,” said Benoit Bourque.
Cardy said $8.8 million has been set aside in the capital budget to work on ventilation systems in schools this upcoming year.