Canada

How will schools enforce physical distancing? Your COVID-19 questions answered

We're answering your questions about the pandemic. Send yours to COVID@cbc.ca and we’ll answer as many as we can. We’ll publish a selection of answers every weekday online, and also put some questions to the experts during The National and on CBC News Network.

From physical distancing at schools to dealing with grief, here's what you’re asking us today

Quebec says its schools will reopen May 11 while Ontario's will remain closed until at least May 31. (Remo Casilli/Reuters)

We're answering your questions about the pandemic. Send yours to COVID@cbc.ca and we'll answer as many as we can. We'll publish a selection of answers every weekday online, and also put some questions to the experts during The National and on CBC News Network.

How will schools enforce physical distancing?

Monique T. is a teacher, and wants to know how schools are planning to physically distance children once they reopen, particularly in Ontario and Quebec. 

So far, Quebec is the only province to say when children will return to the classroom. Elementary schools and daycares will gradually reopen beginning May 11 outside the Montreal region, and May 19 on the island of Montreal, in Laval and surrounding suburbs. But parents also have the option to keep their children at home.

Ontario's schools will remain closed until at least May 31.

Quebec is planning to physically distance children by limiting class sizes to 15 students, and observing the two-metre distancing rule wherever possible, according to a report by CBC's Claire Loewen. Premier François Legault says that may mean moving some classes into vacant high schools for the time being to ensure there is enough space.

Teachers will not wear protective clothing, unless they have a health condition which puts them at risk.

On school buses, the rule will be one child per bench seat and recess periods will be staggered to minimize the number of kids playing outside at one time.

"Kids are always touching things, themselves and each other, and their faces. And you can't tell a child not to hug a friend or touch a toy," Dr. Dina Kulik, a pediatric emergency medicine physician and the founder of Kidcrew Pediatrics Medical Clinic, told CBC News. Kulik acknowledges many parents and children are struggling with school closures, but admits if we go back too soon, we may see a rise in cases, because children can pass the virus along without showing any COVID-19 symptoms.  

Quebec Education Minister Jean-François Roberge said the decision to reopen schools is "a necessary one for education," citing mental health reasons, access to food and the importance of continued learning for students with difficulties. However, the province will delay school reopenings if COVID-19 hospitalizations increase.

Fact or fiction: Is the COVID-19 pandemic a product of bioterrorism? 

Don L. and many others are emailing us questions about one of the most persistent and widespread pieces of misinformation during the pandemic. There is no evidence to the theory that the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 was created in a lab, and let loose either by accident or on purpose by some nefarious actor. 

The World Health Organization, France and U.S. intelligence agencies have all indicated that there is no evidence that the coronavirus was manipulated or produced in a laboratory. 

Virologists around the world say they would be able to tell if the virus has been modified in a lab, and there are no signs this is the case. It is possible the virus could have been studied in a lab and then leaked accidentally, but it's not probable, they say. 

You can read more about the research into the origins of the virus.

Preliminary research from the University of Sherbrooke in Quebec found that one in 10 Canadians believes a conspiracy theory about the coronavirus. Read some of the most common COVID-19 myths here

Can grandparents babysit their grandkids now?

This question comes from Lucie G. who is wondering whether grandparents would be able to babysit their grandkids if the parents need to return to work before schools open.

It's a good question given that some provinces have disclosed their plans to slowly loosen restrictions. But in most areas across Canada, physical distancing is still in effect, and that means you should only interact with people in your household.

If grandparents don't already live with the grandchildren, it's probably not a good idea to have them come over to babysit.

However, some governments, including Saskatchewan and New Brunswick, have announced plans to relax isolation restrictions. New Brunswick will allow a "two-family bubble" where one family can choose another to interact with more closely. 

This means the grandparents could babysit their grandkids if they live in different homes.

New Brunswick's Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Jennifer Russell said that she was heartened by the "joyous reunions" on the weekend of parents meeting with "desperately missed" children and grandchildren. 

But she warns the loosening of restrictions can tighten back up again if there is evidence of community transmission.

What happens if I don't grieve when I've lost someone?

Given the number of lives COVID-19 has taken in Canada, and the recent mass shooting in Nova Scotia, many people, including Janice, want to understand how important it is to grieve and what will happen if they don't do so properly. 

It's important to understand that everyone will deal with grief differently, but Halifax psychiatrist Dr. Adriana Wilson says the first step is to recognize what you are feeling.

"Grief isn't something that can be fixed, but it's important it's acknowledged," said Wilson, who is also an assistant professor at Dalhousie University.

She explains that often when big events, like the pandemic and the shooting, happen people have a tendency to put their heads down in order to find "a way to carry on and just function."

Which could lead to a resurgence of the grief unexpectedly.

"If we avoid our grief, then it starts to come out in other ways or it comes up in a very inconvenient time," Wilson said. "So even just acknowledging that we're struggling is the first step." 

Here is a link to mental health services in your area, or if you are in crisis, call 1-833-456-4566 toll free (In Quebec: 1-866-277-3553), 24/7 or visit www.crisisservicescanada.ca.

Tuesday we answered questions about checking temperatures and boosting your immune system. 

Keep your questions coming by emailing us at COVID@cbc.ca.

With files from Ania Bessonov, Susan Treen and Cheryl Brown

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