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Wednesday, December 9, 2020

Schools with COVID-19 cases in Nova Scotia

Where, when and what’s happening about it.

Posted By on Wed, Dec 9, 2020 at 4:18 PM

click to enlarge Nova Scotia is trying to avoid empty classrooms during the second wave of COVID-19. - STOCK
  • Stock
  • Nova Scotia is trying to avoid empty classrooms during the second wave of COVID-19.
Nova Scotia's school system was already on its standard March break when the first wave hit in winter 2020, and the lockdown restrictions meant students never returned to the classroom that school year. Remote learning went so well, that the second wave of COVID-19 infections brought a new commitment from government to keep schools open as long as possible, even as other parts of society shut down.

So far in the second wave, the system has stayed open, following the strategy from the provincial education department. But individual schools are getting cases, resulting in some temporary closures in those and associated schools. Here, we are listing infection reports and the province's instructions about what is being done to deal.

To the best of our knowledge, as of January 2 there have been 24 cases at 15 different schools in Nova Scotia during the second wave (that's counting from the first cases reported on November 16). If we've missed any, or you'd like to talk about the school system during the pandemic, please send us an email at covid@thecoast.ca, leave a comment below or get into our DMs on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, et cetera.

1 case Reported January 21

École acadienne de Truro

Details: After nearly three weeks without a single case in the public school system, École acadienne de Truro, a French-language school serving students from Pre-primary all the way through Grade 12, got its first COVID-19 case on January 21, and will shut down in hopes of reopening January 26. "The person was not in school today and is self-isolating. The school will close to allow for deep cleaning, testing and contact tracing, and is expected to reopen to students on Wednesday, Jan. 27. Students will learn from home during the closure and families of the school will receive an update on Tuesday, Jan. 26," says the province's announcement. "As with any positive case, public health will be in touch with any close contacts of this case and advise of next steps. Everyone who is a close contact will be notified, tested and asked to self-isolate for 14 days."
7 cases Reported January 2, 2021

Churchill Academy

Details: When the province was supposed to be on a break from reporting COVID-19 cases due to the New Year's long weekend holiday, there were enough new cases that a report was issued anyway. Not only were several of those cases at Churchill Academy, but in its update the province identified a couple more cases at Churchill that somehow hadn't been reported publicly before. This is what the province said in its C19 report: "Five of the cases reported on Jan. 1 are at Churchill Academy, a private school in Dartmouth. There were two other recent cases at the school, for a total of seven. Public health has been in contact with the school community and is arranging testing for all staff and students. The last day of school was Dec. 18 and classes are scheduled to resume Jan. 11." We've asked the province for details about the two vague cases, and will update as we get more information. But the bottom line here is that Churchill Academy has seven cases, the most any single school has seen to this point in Nova Scotia's second wave.
2 cases Reported December 30

Prince Andrew HIGH & Eric Graves Memorial Junior High

Details: Although the public school system is currently in its special extended holiday break, the province announced COVID-19 cases connected to two schools. "One of the cases is at Prince Andrew High School and one is at Eric Graves Memorial Junior High School, both in Dartmouth," says Nova Scotia's December 30 C19 update. "School communities have been notified directly. The schools are currently closed for the holiday break and will be cleaned again before staff return on Jan. 4."
1 case Reported December 11

Shannon Park Elementary (again)

Details: It was only three days ago that Dartmouth's Shannon Park Elementary had its first case. Now it has another, arriving the same day the province announced an extended holiday break for the public school system (the last day of classes for 2020 is Friday, December 18; the first day of the new year is Monday, January 11). About this new case, the province says SPE "has been closed since a previous case was announced and students are now expected to return on Wednesday, Dec. 16. Students will continue to learn from home during the closure and families will receive an update on Tuesday, Dec. 15."
1 case Reported December 10

Tallahassee Community School

Details: No, you're not reading the news from Florida. Apparently the community of Eastern Passage, just outside Dartmouth, is home to Tallahassee Community School. And TCS is home to a new case of the disease. "Public Health has confirmed that a person connected to Tallahassee Community School has tested positive for COVID-19," reads the announcement on the school's website. "Public Health is now working to identify any students and staff who may have been in close contact with the confirmed case. Out of an abundance of caution, and in consultation with Public Health, our school, the before and after school program, and the licenced child care will be closed to students/children Friday, Monday and Tuesday (inclusive) with an expected reopening day of Wednesday, December 16, to allow for a deep cleaning and time for Public Health to engage in contact tracing." The school has 357 students from Pre-primary through Grade 3, with teaching in English and French Immersion. Its nearest high school is Island View High, which we suspect is named for Lawlor and/or McNabs Islands being just offshore from Eastern Passage.
1 case Reported December 8

Shannon Park Elementary

Details: One case among the seven new COVID-19 cases reported Dec. 8 in Nova Scotia is connected to Shannon Park Elementary. This Dartmouth school—a feeder for Dartmouth High—serves 616 students, in both French Immersion and English, Pre-primary through Grade 6. "The person was not in school today and is self-isolating," says the province. "The school will remain closed to students until Monday, Dec. 14 to allow for deep cleaning, testing and contact tracing. Students will learn from home during the closure." The province has the standard words of reassurance for parents and students wondering how far exposure went: "As with any positive case, public health will be in touch with any close contacts of this case and advise of next steps. Everyone who is a close contact will be notified, tested and asked to self-isolate for 14 days."
1 case Reported December 6

Berwick & District School

Details: "Nova Scotia has identified a case of COVID-19 today, Dec. 6, at Berwick and District School in Western Zone," says the province's press release. "The school will remain closed to students until Thursday, Dec. 10. A deep cleaning will take place and students will learn from home during the closure. Students and staff will receive an update Wednesday." Located in Berwick, the Annapolis Valley's "little town with a lot to offer," BDS has about 280 students from Grades Primary through 8.
1 case Reported December 6

Ian Forsyth Elementary

Details: "Nova Scotia has identified a case of COVID-19 today, Dec. 6, at Ian Forsyth Elementary School in Dartmouth," the province says. "The school will remain closed to students until Thursday, Dec. 10. A deep cleaning will take place and students will learn from home during the closure. Students and staff will receive an update Wednesday. As with any positive case, public health will be in touch with any close contacts of this case and advise of next steps. Everyone who is a close contact will be notified, tested and asked to self-isolate for 14 days." With 377 students from Pre-primary to Grade 6, Ian Forsyth is a place where, according to the motto, "everyone is a star." It's in the Prince Andrew High School family, according to the way the un-elected Halifax Regional Centre for Education classification system.
1 Case Reported December 4

Park West School

Details: Nova Scotia is announcing 15 cases of COVID-19 today. Most are not in schools, but "most" doesn't mean all. "There is also a new case, identified today, at Park West School, a primary to Grade 9 school in Central Zone," says the province's report to media. "The person was not in school today and is self-isolating. The school will remain closed to students until Thursday, Dec. 10. A deep cleaning will take place, and students will learn from home during the closure. As a precautionary measure, the offsite Park West pre-primary location will also be closed until Dec. 10." Feeding Halifax West high school, PWS has over 800 students; they get at least a week of remote learning. "Students and families of both the school and pre-primary will receive an update Wednesday, December 9," the province promises.
1 case Reported December 3

Citadel High

Details: Citadel, the big downtown Halifax high school, has 1,509 students learning in both English and French in Grades 10, 11 and 12. And now it has a coronavirus patient, too. "Nova Scotia has identified a case of COVID-19 today, Dec. 3, at Citadel High School, in Halifax, in Central Zone," reports the province. "The school had been closed to students today as a professional development and virtual parent/teacher day. It will remain closed Friday, Dec. 4 and Monday, Dec. 7. A deep cleaning will take place, and students will learn from home during the closure. Students and staff will receive an update Monday."
1 case Reported December 1

St. Margaret’s Bay Elementary

Details: Sometimes the province announces school-based infections along with other new C19 cases, in the regular daily update. Other times, a case in school is discovered after the daily update has been sent to media, and it gets an announcement of its own. SMBE was on its own, around 8:20pm on a Tuesday. "Nova Scotia is reporting one additional case of COVID-19, identified today, Dec. 1, connected to St. Margaret's Bay Elementary school in Central Zone," read the provincial press release. "The school will be closed Wednesday, Dec. 2, for deep cleaning. Staff and students will receive notification from the school about reopening." Between the unexpected, late-hour press release and the immediate closure, it lead the news that Wednesday morning. The school itself has 409 students, Pre-primary to Grade 5 (no French Immersion), and sits under the Sir John A. Macdonald High School umbrella.
1 case Reported November 29

Northeast Kings Education Centre (again)

Details: NKEC is a large institution—nearly 1,000 students and staff, Grade 6 through Grade 12—in the small, Annapolis Valley village of Canning. Today's COVID-19 case is the school's second, coming five days after the first, a point the province made clear when announcing it. "The school has been closed since the first case was announced on Nov. 24. The public health investigation in the coming days will determine whether this case was a close contact of the first confirmed case," says the press release. "Given the school has been closed, this case is not believed to have been in school while infectious. To allow for completion of contact tracing and testing, and out of an abundance of caution, Northeast Kings Education Centre will remain closed for the week and students will be supported to learn at home."

As is typical in these situations, the press release explains that close contacts of the patient will be notified. But unusually—maybe because this is a second case—it also talks about the process behind closures: "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. Those decisions - including whether to keep a school open, close a classroom or close the entire school - are made by public health and the Regional Centre for Education/Conseil scolaire acadien provincial based on the level of risk to other members of the school community and the operational capacity to support in-class learning."
1 case Reported NOVEMBER 27

Bedford South School

Details: "One new case, identified today, is at Bedford South School, a pre-primary to grade 4 school in Central Zone." So says the province's COVID-19 report for Friday, Nov. 27, adding another school to the growing list of infection sites. "The person was not in school today and is self-isolating. Public health will be in touch with close contacts as part of their ongoing investigation and advise of next steps. Everyone in a class which a confirmed case attended will be tested and is required to self-isolate for 14 days. Bedford South School will be closed for cleaning and contact tracing until at least Wednesday, Dec. 2 (inclusive) at which time more information will be communicated to families. Students will be supported to learn at home." BSS is part of the Charles P. Allen high school family. It has nearly 600 students, learning in English (sans French Immersion) from Pre-primary up to Grade 4.
1 case Reported NOVEMBER 24

Northeast Kings Education Centre

Details: What sort of school is Northeast Kings? Apparently it's "a school within a school," according to the website within the school within a school. "We have a Middle School of grade six to eight students and a High School of grade nine to 12 students. Our school has a population of approximately 900 students and 85 staff members." NKEC is in Canning, a village with a smaller population than the school, known for the scenic view of the Annapolis Valley afforded by its look off, which is called the Look Off—making for a Look Off-within-a-look off situation. Anyway, today NKEC is on the map because it has a case of COVID-19. "The person is not in school today and is self-isolating," says the provincial press release. "Public health will be in touch with close contacts as part of their ongoing investigation and advise of next steps. Everyone in a class which a confirmed case attended is being tested and asked to self-isolate for 14 days. Northeast Kings Education Centre will be closed for the remainder of the week and students will be supported to learn at home."
1 case Reported NoVEMBER 20

Auburn Drive High (again)

Details: Auburn Drive shared the honour of being the first school in Nova Scotia with a case of COVID-19. Now it stands alone as the first school to record its second case. And the first high school to get all its related elementary and junior high schools shut down with it. From the province's announcement today: "Nova Scotia is reporting one additional case of COVID-19 at Auburn Drive High School in Cole Harbour. The new case is a close contact of an earlier reported case at the school. Auburn Drive High and its family of schools will close for the day on Friday, Nov. 20, which includes:
  • Astral Drive Elementary
  • Astral Drive Junior High
  • Bell Park Academic Centre
  • Caldwell Road Elementary
  • Colby Village Elementary
  • Graham Creighton Junior High
  • Humber Park Elementary
  • Joseph Giles Elementary
"Schools will be closed to community bookings from now until Sunday, Nov. 22. Friday is an assessment and evaluation day for students from pre-primary to grade 9. Staff will work from home except for caretaking and custodial staff. 

"Public health will be in touch with close contacts as part of its ongoing investigation and advise of next steps. Everyone in a class which a confirmed case attended is being tested and must self-isolate for 14 days. Students will be supported to learn at home.

"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. Those decisions, including whether to keep a school open, close a classroom or close the entire school, are made based on the level of risk to other members of the school community and the operational capacity to support in-class learning."
2 cases Reported November 16

Graham Creighton Junior High & Auburn Drive High

Details: This day was both unwanted and inevitable in our pandemic second wave. Now it is here. "Nova Scotia is reporting two additional cases of COVID-19 today, the first cases associated with schools," says the province's announcement. "One person at Graham Creighton Junior High in Cherry Brook and one person at Auburn Drive High in Cole Harbour tested positive for COVID-19. Neither attended school today and both are self-isolating at home. Public health will be in touch with close contacts as part of their ongoing investigation and advise of next steps. 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. Only members of the school community who are directed to stay home are required to do so." 

Marking the debut of infections in schools, both chief medical officer of health Robert Strang and Zach Churchill, education and early childhood development minister, speak in the press release. "Our schools mirror our communities, so this news is not unexpected," Churchill says. "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." Strang, speaking for the experts, says: "While not a surprise, these cases are a stark reminder that we need to be diligent about following public health measures. 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." Hopefully these soothing, rational words will help people avoid freaking out.

Graham Creighton has 296 students in Grades 7 to 9, French Immersion and English. It is one of the junior highs that sends students on to Auburn Drive high school, where 829 students are enrolled this year for education in both French and English in Grade 10, Grade 11 and Grade 12.

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