WATCH — I spent 10 days in isolation. Here’s how it went and why I had to do it

Isabelle MacNeil
Story by Isabelle MacNeil and CBC Kids News • Published 2021-05-13 13:42

Isabelle MacNeil’s entire Grade 9 class was exposed to COVID-19


Just a few weeks ago, Isabelle MacNeil was seeing friends without masks, playing team sports and getting ready to celebrate her friend’s 15th birthday.

Then the third wave of COVID-19 hit Nova Scotia. Hard.

The Atlantic province has managed to keep coronavirus cases under control until now.

Last week, Nova Scotia was breaking records for the number of cases detected each day, forcing schools to close and pushing everyone into lockdown.

Some of those cases were in Isabelle’s school in Dartmouth.

Her entire Grade 9 class had to self-isolate.

A teen puts together a colourful gift basket.

Isabelle had plans to celebrate her friend’s birthday at a restaurant. Instead, she made her a gift basket in isolation. (Image submitted by Isabelle MacNeil)

Public Health in Nova Scotia says anyone who was exposed to someone with COVID-19 has to isolate 14 days from the time the students were exposed.

Isabelle and her classmates were notified four days after their exposure, meaning their isolation time was 10 days.

Watch this video to find out how it went, what her friends thought and join Isabelle as she asks why they had to isolate at all:


Isabelle had to stay in her room, including having her meals delivered to her door.

She could leave her room with a mask on, but only for the following reasons:

“It's kind of lonely at times, just being in my room,” said Tasha Barnett, 14, Isabelle’s classmate.

“Especially when I can hear my family all outside and just around the house and I can't be with them. But obviously, it's for good reason.”

Tasha spent her spare time chatting with friends online, working out and cleaning out her closet.

A teen reads a book on her bed

Tasha Barnett tried not to spend too much time on screens while in isolation. (Image submitted by Tasha Barnett)

Another classmate, Eli Lokonyen, 14, comes from a family of nine siblings and shares a room with his younger brother.

The two isolated together, so Eli had some company.

“There are times where he kind of annoys me,” Eli said. “But most of the time it's fine.”

Eli said he tried not to stress about COVID-19, did yoga and played video games.

2 boys play outside

On some days, Eli Lokonyen, right, played football outside with his brother during his one hour of outside time. (Image submitted by Eli Lokonyen)

Strict rules keep everyone safe

Nova Scotia Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Robert Strang said strict rules like this have helped keep Nova Scotians from feeling the worst effects of the pandemic.

“Our approach in Nova Scotia has always been to be cautious. It's served us well,” he said.

Strang said the new variants, which spread more easily than the original virus, have been part of why the number of cases have gone up in Nova Scotia

He said isolating is important, even if Isabelle’s COVID-19 tests all came back negative, because it can take up to 14 days to develop symptoms and spread the virus.

2 images of children getting a COVID-19 nasal swab.

Isabelle’s younger siblings both got COVID-19 tests while their sister was in isolation. Nova Scotia has suggested people get tested regularly, even if they are asymptomatic. (Image submitted by Judy MacNeil)

Strang said young people aren’t getting very sick from COVID-19 but still need to be careful.

And he acknowledged that isolating in your room is hard, but it’s OK to be on screens to help pass the time in the short term.

“Don't worry about it,” he said. “We all have to do what we need to do to get through this as safely as possible.”

Watch Isabelle’s video here:


About the Contributor

Isabelle MacNeil
Isabelle MacNeil
CBC Kids News Contributor
Isabelle MacNeil is a creative and ambitious Grade 11 student from Dartmouth N.S. with a love for soccer, volleyball, acting and business. Isabelle has been having so much fun working as a contributor for CBC Kids News since September 2018. Isabelle loves reporting stories and hopes to inspire others as a positive role model and believes that giving kids a voice is more important than ever.

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