Online first: Full-time, in-person learning for all New Brunswick high school students to be delayed

NEW BRUNSWICK – In a rare live weekend press briefing from Fredericton today, Saturday, April 10, Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Jennifer Russell, and Minister of Health, Dorothy Shephard provided updates on COVID-19 in the province.

“New variants of COVID-19 have changed the course of this pandemic,” said Russell.

“They are highly infectious and easily transmissible,” she added.

Russell said the “continued rise” in cases and the increase in hospitalizations “provides stark evidence” of the dangers of the new variants of the virus.

Russell said going forward, Public Health will be assuming all new cases of COVID-19 are one of the variants.

“This is no longer business as usual,” said Russell.

She said the increase in cases has put a strain on health services in Zone 4, the Edmundston region, along with the zones to which overflow cases are being transferred.

Russell said strictly following Public Health guidelines and protocols is still the best way to combat the spread of the virus.

As a result of the new cases, predominantly in Zone 4, Edmundston and the Madawaska region will be put into a full lockdown as of midnight tonight. Other areas of Zone 4 remain in various stages of Red, Orange, and Yellow.

As a result of the uptick in cases and transmissibility of the U.K. variant, identified as the culprit in the increased cases, full-time, in-person learning for high school students across the province will be delayed, with the decision being revisited on Monday, April 26, out of what Shephard called an “abundance of caution”.

She said the delay in the return to in-person learning for the entire province is to “bring stability to our high schools and our educators”.

Shephard asked New Brunswickers to be “part of the solution” in combating the U.K. variant in the province.

The province has also seen two additional deaths since Thursday. An individual aged 60 to 69, and an individual aged 70 to 79, both from Zone 4.

Currently, any resident over the age of 70 may now book an appointment to receive their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine online through Vitalité or Horizon Health Network or by contacting a participating pharmacy.

Changes have also been made to protocols for students returning to the province.

From the GNB website:

Rules for post-secondary education students who are moving

The following rules went into effect for students and anyone helping them to move their belongings in and out of the province Friday, April 9, at 11:59 p.m. under the province’s mandatory order:

  • People may enter New Brunswick for a period of no more than 24 hours to transport a student and/or remove belongings from a student’s residence. They are expected to observe all public health rules and minimize contact with others, except the student they are picking up.
  • Anyone travelling to pick up a student in New Brunswick must register their travel online.
  • Staying longer than 24 hours is considered remaining in the province and the 14-day self-isolation period would then apply.
  • Before travelling to New Brunswick, people should check with their home province to see if further restrictions apply upon returning home.
  • New Brunswickers may enter Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia or Newfoundland and Labrador, as long as those provinces permit them to do so, for no more than 24 hours to remove belongings from a student’s residence. They are expected to observe all public health rules and minimize contact with others while away but will not be required to self-isolate upon their return.
  • Anyone leaving New Brunswick to remove belongings from a student’s residence located outside the Atlantic provinces is ordered, upon their return, to self-isolate for 14 days and follow the directions of public health officials. As well, students entering from outside the Atlantic provinces are ordered to self-isolate for 14 days upon their return.
  • Students returning to New Brunswick from other Atlantic provinces will not need to self-isolate upon their return.

For updates on vaccine eligibility, and all details on COVID-19 in New Brunswick, go to www.gnb.ca/coronavirus

editor@stcroixcourier.ca