Nfld. & Labrador

Classes suspended at schools in Summerford and Middle Arm as COVID-19 disruptions grow in N.L.

There are no classes at New World Island Academy in Summerford or MSB Regional Academy in Middle Arm on Wednesday, following a presumptive positive case of COVID-19.

2 students have also tested positive at Macdonald Drive Elementary in St. John's

A swab for a COVID-19 test. One person connected to New World Island Academy in Summerford has tested presumptive positive for the virus. (Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press)

Two central Newfoundland schools have pulled students out of class following the discovery of presumptive positive COVID-19 cases, a day after a school in St. John's reported two cases among its student population.

New World Island Academy in Summerford and MSB Regional Academy in Middle Arm have suspended in-person learning. 

A Facebook post from New World Island Academy late Tuesday contained a message from the Newfoundland and Labrador English School District, stating the case involves "an individual who attends your school." The district would not confirm whether the cases are students or staff, however, citing privacy considerations.

A spokesperson for the district told CBC on Wednesday there is one presumptive positive case at each school.

Public health officials deemed the schools safe to open, but the district opted to keep them closed Wednesday "for operational reasons to allow for the testing process to be completed," the spokesperson said in an email.

The district also said four schools — Copper Ridge Academy in Baie Verte, Hillside Elementary and Cape John Collegiate in La Scie, and St. Peter's Academy in Westport — have been advised to operate under its "high-risk" scenario, which involves reduced occupancy, greater emphasis on physical distancing, and the possibility of online or blended learning.

There were eight presumptive positive cases of COVID-19 announced Tuesday in the province, along with 16 confirmed cases. Fourteen of the confirmed cases were in the Central Health region.

The class disruptions are the second school-related brush with coronavirus in as many days in the province. On Tuesday, two students at Macdonald Drive Elementary in St. John's were confirmed to have COVID-19.

Classes have not been suspended at Macdonald Drive Elementary. The district told CBC News in a statement anyone not deemed a close contact can continue in-person learning on Wednesday. 

The district said the school will have online learning plans for students told to self-isolate.

More caution needed: NLTA

Following the Macdonald Drive Elementary cases, the Newfoundland and Labrador Teachers' Association had a message of increased caution.

"It might be a good opportunity to look at reducing some of the community use of our schools at this time, to revisit the cleaning piece, and just the ability to make sure that everyone who uses these buildings are safe moving forward," said Trent Langdon, president of the NLTA.

Trent Langdon, president of the Newfoundland and Labrador Teachers' Association, says it's time to strengthen public health measures in schools. (Mark Quinn/CBC)

Langdon said his organization supports the reinstitution of masks in schools, a public health policy brought back Monday after being lifted in August.

"Why pull everything back so early? Erring on the side of caution has been our constant message since Day 1," he told CBC News on Tuesday.

He pointed to increasing school-related cases elsewhere in Atlantic Canada, including in Prince Edward Island, where at least 29 cases have been connected to an elementary school in Charlottetown.

Macdonald Drive Elementary serves students from kindergarten to Grade 6, while New World Island Academy encompasses kindergarten to Grade 12.

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

With files from Mark Quinn

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