HALIFAX -- An increasing incidence of COVID-19 in schools and pre-schools in New Brunswick has prompted the province to re-impose a mask mandate starting Tuesday.

“Since Thursday, there have been positive cases in 11 schools and three child care facilities," Education and Early Childhood Development Minister Dominic Cardy said during a news conference in Fredericton on Monday afternoon. "As of (Tuesday), all students in schools in pre-schools must wear masks. This will be in place for two weeks and then reassessed."

On Monday, Dr. Jennifer Russell, the province's chief medical officer of health, said there were 122 new cases of COVID-19 over the weekend.

"We have sad cases, such of the ones we heard this weekend, of unvaccinated parents spreading COVID-19 to their kids," Cardy said. "It's this sort of horror we have to do our best to avoid."

All students and staff will be required to wear masks on school property and on buses, Cardy said Monday afternoon. Students may remove their masks when eating, drinking or engaged in sports or physical education classes.

With "significant increase" in confirmed cases in the Campbellton and Dalhousie communities, including cases in several schools, Cardy said the province will implemented additional safety measures until at least Friday, Sept. 24.

"Students will wear masks throughout the day in both common areas and within the classroom," Cardy said. "Schools will do all they can to reduce the amount of contact between groups of students in different classrooms and schools will not start any interscholastic extracurricular or intramural activities that are not already underway in those schools. Teachers who are fully vaccinated will be able to remove their masks in the classroom for instructional purposes."

These measures will be implemented at:

  • Polyvalente Roland-Pépin
  • L.E. Reinsborough School
  • Le Galion des Appalaches
  • Lord Beaverbrook Elementary School
  • La Mosaïque du Nord
  • Campbellton Middle School
  • École communautaire Académie Notre-Dame
  • Dalhousie Regional High School
  • École aux Quatre Vents
  • Sugarloaf Senior High School

School-aged children in daycares will need to wear masks at all times as staff work to reduce contact between groups of children as much as possible. Staff who are fully vaccinated will continue to wear masks in common areas and may remove their masks within their own group of children. Unvaccinated staff must wear masks at all times.

"I know that families are feeling anxious right now, especially those with children under the age of 12 who are not yet eligible to be vaccinated," Cardy said. "But we continue to work with Public Health to adapt our guidelines based on new information and will continue to do so throughout the coming year as needed. That is why we are adding layers of protection to schools and child-care facilities in impacted regions, and the situation will be closely monitored in the coming weeks. We also urge anyone who is eligible to get fully vaccinated and help keep our kids healthy and safe."

Campbellton Mayor Ian Comeau says he's encouraging everyone in his city to wear a mask -- and get the shot -- to protect unvaccinated children and keep schools open.

CONFIRMED CASES IN SCHOOLS AND CHILD-CARE FACILITIES

Public said in a news release that there are positive cases confirmed in schools in zones 1 (Moncton region), 3 (Fredericton region) and 5 (Campbellton region).

"Regarding all cases identified at schools, if you or a family member have been in close contact with a case, you will be notified by Public Health for contact tracing," the news release said. "If you do not hear directly from Public Health, you have not been identified as a close contact."

New Brunswick’s Healthy and Safe Schools guidelines dictate that schools with cases will close or move to online learning for at least one calendar day to support contact tracing, risk assessments and operational responses.

Here's a breakdown of the schools with confirmed positive cases:

  • Zone 1 (Moncton region) – A positive case of COVID-19 has been confirmed at each of the following schools: Riverview High School, West Riverview Elementary and Moncton High School.
  • Zone 3 (Fredericton region) – A positive case of COVID-19 has been confirmed at École Sainte-Anne in Fredericton and two positive cases have been confirmed at Donald Fraser Memorial in Plaster Rock.
  • Zone 5 (Campbellton region) – A positive case of COVID-19 has been confirmed at each of the following schools: Dalhousie Regional High School, Galion des Appalaches in Campbellton and Polyvalente Roland-Pépin in Campbellton. Two positive cases have been confirmed at each of the following schools: Lord Beaverbrook School in Campbellton, Sugarloaf Senior High School in Campbellton, and Campbellton Middle School. Positive cases have also been confirmed at Wee Care Day Care, Wee Care 2 Early Learning Centre and Youth In Action Day Care, all of which are located in Campbellton.