COVID-19: New Brunswick parents, teachers wish for stability as in-school cases climb

Click to play video: 'COVID causing pre-holiday stress in schools' COVID causing pre-holiday stress in schools
WATCH: Parents and teachers worry how surging COVID cases in New Brunswick’s education system might impact the upcoming holiday break for students – Dec 8, 2021

If you were to ask a student in New Brunswick to describe the fall semester, it’s unlikely they’d say it’s been easy.

Jenna Morton, who runs a parenting blog in the province and has three elementary school-aged kids of her own, says the answer you’d get from most kids and parents alike might actually be non-verbal.

Read more: COVID-19: New Brunswick reports 111 new cases, 10 in schools and child-care facilities

“There’s a lot of heavy sighing,” she says.

“It’s just a constant stream of ever-changing, last-minute complications.”

Between COVID-related closures, a massive labour dispute, severe weather and power outages, Morton says her young ones seem to have spent more time at home than in the classroom.

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“There have been very few, if any, full weeks of school for my three children this year from September to December,” she says.

Wednesday alone Public Health reports COVID-19 has pushed six schools into operation days, with 53 schools impacted by a surge in cases in the education system.

The union representing teachers across the province says what you don’t see in those numbers is how many people are scrambling behind the scenes to make those operational days or otherwise remote learning days work.

“There’s a myth out there that at the switch of a button, teachers, parents, students can all adapt to online learning,” says Connie Keating, president of the New Brunswick Teacher’s Association.

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“That certainly isn’t the case.”

With confirmed cases sometimes communicated to education staff past 10 p.m. at night, Keating says the union has asked Public Health to work with them and the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development to come up with a cutoff time.

“The earlier the better,” Keating says.

She says the details would require some fine-tuning – with control over when cases are detected somewhat limited.

On top of all things being managed by teachers, parents and students at the moment, there’s also a countdown clock ticking towards the winter break.

Needless to say, anxiety is high — and the province’s education minister acknowledges that.

“There are people in all the government departments, many of them with children in the school system themselves, who share that anxiety and are working day and night to keep our schools as safe as they possibly can,” says Minister Dominic Cardy.

Read more: Two N.B. schools move to remote learning, more COVID-19 cases confirmed on weekend

Cardy asks parents to be mindful of their families’ lives outside the classroom and how that may impact the current spread of COVID-19.

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“Your life as a parent and your children’s life as students are not restricted to the school building and the school day,” Cardy says.

“What happens before and after, the way that all of us respond as citizens, that is what is going to make sure that this pandemic gets back into a situation in which we can tolerate it until we have the medical solutions that we’re all waiting for.”

On top of most parents’ Christmas lists? Some stability in the New Year, Morton says.

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New Brunswick’s COVID-19 Winter Action Plan rules causing confusion – Dec 6, 2021

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