“We know, obviously, there’s a lot of spread in schools, and that’s a concern,” said Dr. Stephen Freedman, professor of pediatrics and emergency medicine at the University of Calgary, who also works at the Alberta Children’s Hospital.
“We are only at the beginning of September and it will become much more difficult as the number of cases increases,” he said.
Prince Edward Island Director of Health Dr. Heather Morrison announced on Sunday that schools in Charlottetown will be temporarily closed to contain an outbreak of COVID-19 among students.
PEI temporarily closes Charlottetown schools amid epidemic of ‘concerning’ students
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“We have a serious situation with the transmission of COVID-19 in Prince Edward Island involving children,” Morrison told reporters. “At this point, we don’t know the extent of COVID-19 transmission in our schools or in our province. “
In Alberta, where a school is not considered to have an epidemic unless 10 percent of students are absent due to COVID-19 or respiratory illness, schools in Slave Lake, Edmonton and High Prairie all have declared epidemics at the start of the school year.
Several schools in Alberta experience COVID-19 outbreaks at the start of the 2021-22 school year
Schools have been closed in eastern Ontario and cases have been reported in schools in the Greater Toronto Area.
Meanwhile, Quebec has introduced rapid COVID-19 tests as a way to control outbreaks in some schools in Montreal and Laval.
And in New Brunswick, 11 schools have confirmed outbreaks, according to provincial officials. On Monday, the province announced that students must wear masks in common areas and in the classroom for at least two weeks.
“There have been a significant number of reported cases among schoolchildren across the province,” Chief Medical Officer Dr Jennifer Russell said on Monday. “I have children and, in fact, one of their schools was affected today. And so I can understand what kind of angst and anxiety this can cause. “
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COVID-19: NB students to wear masks all day after outbreaks in several schools
Most of those cases were due to socializing over the Labor Day weekend, she said, and typically students were infected by a family member.
“When young children are infected, it is most often due to contact with a family member or household member who is not vaccinated,” she said.
Russell and the Government of New Brunswick are urging all eligible people to get vaccinated in order to protect children under the age of 12, who cannot yet be vaccinated.
122 cases of COVID-19 in NB over the weekend, causing school closures and new rules
When the virus is brought into a school, it spreads quickly, especially in environments where students are not masked and do not keep their distance from each other, Freedman said.
“Once a case is in school and spreads to several other children, it can be very difficult to control the Delta variant, especially because even though schools do a good job during school hours, children socialize after school and many parents also need to take it upon themselves to do the right thing at home, ”he said.
Russell says that students who show symptoms should be tested for COVID-19, and that increasing masking, hygiene and social distancing measures are a good idea to reduce the number of cases.
Back to school rekindles fears for unvaccinated children under 12
“What we’re starting to see now are policies that are a little relaxed in many jurisdictions across the country, and that’s going to lead to increased spread, especially the Delta variant which we know is much more contagious than previous variants that we have processed. with last year, ”he said. “So if anything, we need to increase our public health measures and the methods we take to prevent transmission both inside and outside of schools because schools are not functioning well. isolated. “
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The last thing you want is to close schools, given the suffering of students over the past year, he said.
“It was probably one of the most difficult times in recent memory for our youth,” he said.
“And keeping schools open, keeping kids engaged academically and socially, is so important to their mental health right now. And the best way to keep schools open and classrooms open is to prevent transmission. “
—With files from Heather Yourex-West, Morgan Black and Kirby Bourne, Global News and The Canadian Press
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