Earlier this afternoon, the Government of New Brunswick announced changes to the Healthy and Safe Schools guidelines. These changes will come into effect on Monday, September 20th. A letter from Deputy Minister George Daley was sent home to families, outlining the changes. Today's government news release also provided an overview, and the excerpt from that release can be found below:
Healthy and Safe Schools guidelines updated
Since the beginning of this school year, 20 schools across health zones 1, 3, 4 and 5 have been affected by about 80 confirmed cases of COVID-19. By comparison, the 2020-21 school year had about 100 cases across 50 schools, in every health zone. As a result, the Healthy and Safe Schools guidelines for 2021-22 are being updated to better protect students in kindergarten to Grade 12.
On Monday, Sept. 20, the following measures come into effect:
- Using classroom groupings (or bubbles) to the greatest extent possible. Class sizes will not be changed.
- Only classroom bubble-friendly field trips will be permitted for students in kindergarten to Grade 8.
- Schools will look for ways to encourage greater physical distancing between groupings, such as adjusting lunch or recess schedules.
- Physical education classes will be taught outdoors, weather permitting. If taught indoors, students and staff must wear masks.
- Assemblies will no longer be permitted.
In addition, effective Wednesday, Sept. 22, all students who are eligible to be vaccinated (those born in 2009 and earlier who do not have a medical exemption) must be vaccinated to participate in indoor or outdoor extracurricular and intramural activities.
To reduce the risk of transmission on buses, and allow for greater physical distancing, families are asked to drive their children to school if they are able. Community use of schools remains restricted to youth activities. Students 12 and over must be vaccinated or have a medical exemption to participate.
These measures will be reviewed regularly in the coming days and weeks.
“The growing number of cases of COVID-19 in communities is having a significant impact on public school operations,” said Education and Early Childhood Development Minister Dominic Cardy. “We have a duty to protect our students, especially those under 12 who are not yet eligible to receive protection through COVID-19 vaccines. As the situation in communities evolves, we have worked closely with Public Health to make updates to our guidelines and ensure our schools are healthy, safe and can stay open through the coming weeks. But we will need the help of families, communities and businesses to help protect our school communities.”