FREDERICTON (GNB) – The provincial government announced updates today to the Return to School plan that will see high school students across New Brunswick return to full-time in-person learning on April 12.

“We are so grateful and proud of the outstanding work that has been carried out by dedicated teachers and staff across the education system and by Public Health staff,” said Education and Early Childhood Development Minister Dominic Cardy. “But we have always acknowledged that the situation, particularly for high school students, is not ideal. These changes mean all students in Grades 9 through 12 will be learning in the classroom every day in the Yellow and Orange Public Health levels.”

“Public Health fully supports the safe return of high school students to school,” said Dr. Jennifer Russell, chief medical officer of health. “The approach was developed in collaboration with the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development. We will continue to provide guidance throughout the school year on various issues ranging from prevention measures to managing an outbreak and will support our students, families, educators and school staff every step of the way.”

Changes to the Return to School plan at the high school level include:

  • students and staff will be required to wear a clean face mask throughout the day, unless eating or engaged in physical activity;
  • additional spaces will be made available throughout the schools for lunch and breaks;
  • mandatory seating plans will be implemented in classrooms and on buses; and
  • if a positive case of COVID-19 is confirmed in a high school, it will close for three days to allow for contact tracing, school cleaning and testing of close contacts, and for vaccination programs for students and staff.

In addition, beginning today, all high school staff are eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine and will be receiving an invitation today to participate in vaccination clinics next week organized by the regional health authorities. In the coming weeks, additional vaccination clinics will be available for staff in elementary and middle schools and for early childhood service providers and child care staff.

High school students who are 16 and older with complex medical conditions are also eligible to receive the vaccine. They are encouraged to review the list of select conditions prior to making an appointment and should also print a copy of the declaration form.

If a health zone moves to the Red level, Public Health will provide direction to schools on whether to return to blended learning protocols. In that situation individual learning plans will be developed for vulnerable students.

All other directives for school sports, music and extracurricular activities will remain in place. High schools at which students have already been attending full time, and K-8 schools will continue to follow existing operational plans.

More information on proms and graduation ceremonies will be available in the coming weeks. The full Return to School plan and other resources for families are available online.