Some N.B. parents frustrated with changing contact tracing policy in schools

Click to play video: 'New policy aimed at New Brunswickers testing positive having opposite effect'
New policy aimed at New Brunswickers testing positive having opposite effect
A new policy created to enhance privacy for those testing positive is actually have the opposite effect. Suzanne Lapointe has more. – Dec 17, 2021

Some parents across New Brunswick are frustrated and confused by the contact tracing process in the province’s schools.

Erin Ellis, a mom with two school-aged children in Moncton, said she didn’t receive a call from Public Health until a week after her child tested positive for COVID-19.

She said they only asked about her child’s contacts for two days before she tested positive, and that she received confusing advice on how to follow up.

Read more: COVID-19: N.B. announces 2 deaths, 163 new cases as interim measures to take effect

On Thursday evening, Oromocto mother of three Haley Jones received an email from the principal of her children’s school explaining that going forward, all students in K-8 schools “would be required to participate in daily rapid testing when there is a confirmed Covid-19 case at the school. Close contacts will not be exclusively notified as they were in the past.”

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This means if anyone in the school system, including a parent, reports having a positive result to Public Health, all the students will be rapid tested.

There will no longer be any additional context provided, like which grade or class the person is in, or whether the person is even a student.

That’s too vague for Jones, and she says parents have resorted to telling each other about positive test results, in turn compromising their child’s privacy.

This has created a whisper network where parents try to keep each other apprised through unofficial channels.

“I think that’s especially worrisome because we’ve not been getting these contact-tracing notifications because of privacy,” she said in a Zoom interview on Friday.

Read more: COVID-19 restrictions in New Brunswick for the holidays, and the impact Omicron is having

“Nobody wants their kid to be the one that starts an outbreak at the school. I would be worried my kids would get bullied.”

She also expressed worry about depending on being in the right social circles to be notified.

“It seems to be that if you’re not in the know with your school community you just don’t get to know.”

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In a statement issued to Global News by the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development Friday afternoon, the province clarified that “contact tracing efforts no longer focus on individual classes, as was previously the case with K-8 grade levels. This change will help manage the risk of transmission in the school community, particularly for the age groups that do not have high vaccination levels.”

Contact tracing will continue in high schools, however.

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