COVID-19 Update and Back to School Winter 2022 Plan for New Brunswick

The provincial plans for schools and child-care facilities, which outline measures to be implemented to align with Public Health’s winter plan, were announced today. The plans for early learning and child care will come into effect on Dec. 20 and…

COVID-19 Update and Back to School Winter 2022 Plan for New Brunswick

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The provincial plans for schools and child-care facilities, which outline measures to be implemented to align with Public Health’s winter plan, were announced today. The plans for early learning and child care will come into effect on Dec. 20 and the plans for schools will come into effect when school resumes on Jan. 10.

“As we face many unknown factors in light of the Omicron variant, we have reviewed our approach and guidelines for schools and child-care facilities to ensure they are able to address this rapidly evolving situation,” said Education and Early Childhood Development Minister Dominic Cardy. “With Public Health, we have developed plans aimed at keeping our children and young people healthy, safe and learning within the classroom to the greatest extent possible throughout the winter months.”

The plans provide schools and early learning and child-care facilities with direction on operations in alignment with the province’s three-level alert system. They provide details for students in kindergarten to Grade 8, Grades 9-12, early learning facilities and after-school programs.

Among the measures under Level 1 for schools:

· whenever a case is confirmed at a school, rapid testing will be expanded to include all students in kindergarten to Grade 8 and non-vaccinated high school students;

· class groupings will be used for students in kindergarten to Grade 8;

· masks will be required indoors;

· Masks will be required outdoors, with exceptions for K-8 students who are within their grouping;

· there will be limited singing and limited use of wind instruments; and

· visitors will be limited.

For early learning and after-school child-care facilities, Level 1 measures include:

· children will be in groups of no more than 20;

· children aged two and under will not be required to wear masks;

· children aged three to five will be required to wear masks when not in their group;

· children five and older and staff will be required to wear masks unless eating or drinking;

· visitors will be limited; and

· there will be limited singing and limited use of wind instruments.

Guidelines also provide direction to schools and facilities on extracurricular activities, sports, spectators, physical education, field trips, and the use of school spaces such as the cafeteria, auditoriums, and community use of schools. The full plan is available online.

Families are reminded that rapid test kits for use during the holidays are being sent home with students. Students in kindergarten to Grade 6 will receive two kits, containing five tests per kit. Students in Grades 7-12 will be given one rapid test kit since they will not be out of school as long as the younger children. Students should rapid test every two to three days while on break, including Jan. 9, the Sunday before they return to school.

Interim measures announced on Monday, Dec. 13, remain in effect. These include:

· Organized sport and all other organized activities for children under 12 are prohibited.

· For those 12 and older, practices and skills drills are permitted involving only a single team at a time, under an operational plan that includes a reasonable effort to ensure distancing and sanitization.

· Students in kindergarten through Grade 6 will begin their holiday break on Friday, Dec.17, at the end of the regular school day. This is one week ahead of schedule.

In addition:

· The last day of classes for students in Grades 7 and 8 will be Tuesday, Dec. 21.

· For students in Grades 9-12 there will be a noon dismissal on Thursday, Dec. 23.

· For the week of Dec. 20, cafeterias, assemblies and concerts will be limited to 50 per cent capacity. These events should take place virtually whenever possible. If attending in person, then families attending concerts must be vaccinated.

“We know that families want to be able to gather over the holidays,” said Cardy. “Our goal is to keep our students healthy and safe and slow the spread of COVID-19 leading into the holiday season through the interim measures we imposed on Monday, Dec. 13, along with the rapid testing program.”

70 recoveries / 160 new cases

Public Health reported today that 70 people have recovered from COVID-19 and there are 160 new cases of the virus.

“To date, 14 cases have been confirmed as the Omicron variant and we are awaiting confirmation of several other tests,” said Shephard. “However, seeing what is happening in other jurisdictions, we know there will be many more cases of the variant.”

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