Nova Scotia reports first cases of COVID-19 in schools

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WATCH: Two confirmed cases of COVID-19 reported Tuesday are students in Dartmouth schools. While Dr. Robert Strang says this is a wakeup call, he says all appropriate steps have been taken, and schools are staying open. Alicia Draus reports – Nov 17, 2020

Nova Scotia reported two additional cases of COVID-19 on Monday, the first cases associated with schools.

According to the province, one person at Graham Creighton Junior High in Cherry Brook and one person at Auburn Drive High in Cole Harbour tested positive for the virus.

Public Health said that the potential exposure to COVID-19 at Auburn Drive High could have happened on Nov. 13, but no other information was given in relation to the case at Graham Creighton Junior High.

“Neither attended school today and both are self-isolating at home,” the province said in a press release.

Read more: Nova Scotia reports 2 new cases of COVID-19, has 23 active cases

Public health said it will be in touch with close contacts as part of its ongoing investigation and advise of next steps.

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The update comes following the province’s reporting of two new coronavirus cases on Monday morning, which are in the central health zone and are connected to previously reported cases.

“Everyone in a class which a confirmed case attended is being tested and asked to self-isolate for 14 days. Students will be supported to learn at home,” public health said.

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Only members of the school community who are directed to stay home are required to do so, the province said.

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“Our schools mirror our communities, so this news is not unexpected,” Zach Churchill, minister of education and early childhood development, said in a press release.

“We are taking our direction from public health. They are the experts. Any student or staff who needs to learn or teach from home will be provided necessary supports.”

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According to the province, when a member of the school community tests positive for COVID-19, public health works with the school to let families know about the positive case and what happens next.

“While not a surprise, these cases are a stark reminder that we need to be diligent about following public health measures,” said Dr. Robert Strang, chief medical officer of health. “Wash your hands. Wear a mask. Keep your distance from others not in your household or close social circle. This is the only way we’re going to get ahead of the curve.”

Auburn Drive High principal Karen Hudson sent out a letter to the school community saying the school will remain open.

“Anyone who has been in close contact with the confirmed case is required to stay home from school, self-isolate and monitor for symptoms,” the letter read.

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“We understand you may feel anxious over the coming days. It is natural to want to know if your child may have been exposed to the virus.”

Read more: Nova Scotians urged to ‘tighten up’ as potential COVID-19 exposures, cases increase

The principal said to protect privacy, the name of the child who tested positive will not be released.

Students who are self-isolating will be supported, the school said. “School staff will connect with those families to identify what learning materials and technology they require and make a plan to deliver these resources.”

Principal Hudson encouraged parents to talk to their children, “about any anxieties and remind them to treat one another with kindness and respect, in person and on social media.”