Nova Scotia

N.S. students won't be returning to the classroom this school year

Nova Scotia students and teachers will not be returning to the classroom this year. At-home learning will continue until June 5, when the province's school year will end.

'That means your kitchen will be a classroom for a little bit longer,' says Premier Stephen McNeil

The province's schools will remain closed for students and teachers for the rest of the school year. (Robert Short/CBC)

Nova Scotia students and teachers will not be returning to the classroom this school year.

At-home learning will continue until June 5, when the province's school year will end.

"That means your kitchen is a classroom for a little bit longer," Premier Stephen McNeil said during a COVID-19 press briefing on Friday.

McNeil said teachers will continue to work until the end of June to finalize assessments and report cards.

To the class of 2020, McNeil said this news is a "tough pill to swallow."

"This is not how you envisioned your Grade 12 year — but there will be a way to celebrate and you will come out of this stronger, smarter and ready to take on," he said.

McNeil said the province is aiming to reopen daycares by June 8.

He said a final decision will be made closer to the date.

2 more deaths, 1 new case

Two more people have died from COVID-19 in the Northwood long-term care home in Halifax, bringing the province's death toll from the virus to 46 as of Friday's update.

In total, 40 people at Northwood have died from COVID-19.

"It's hard to get past the pain, but we have to push through it, stay together as we continue to flatten the curve," McNeil said.

There are two licensed long-term care homes and unlicensed seniors facilities in the province with active cases of the virus. Northwood has 156 residents and 38 staff with the virus. One other facility has one staff member with COVID-19.

One new case of the virus was identified on Thursday.

Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil is shown at a press briefing Friday. (CBC)

Dr. Robert Strang, Nova Scotia's chief medical officer of health, said this is "really good news" as the QEII Health Sciences Centre's microbiology lab completed 840 tests for COVID-19 on Thursday.

"While it's good news that our case load is low, it is too early to relax," he said. "We need to continue to pay attention to COVID-19 and remain vigilant."

The province has had a total of 1,008 cases so far. Five people are in hospital, two in intensive care. The province said 722 people have recovered from the virus. Nova Scotia has had 32,835 negative tests.

Leaked government document

During the briefing, Strang went over a leaked government presentation of a proposed plan to COVID-19 lift restrictions.

Strang said the document "is not a Nova Scotia plan" but a "national framework for reopening developed by Canada's chief medical officers of health."

The eventual plan to reopen the province will be formed by federal public health recommendations, Nova Scotia epidemiology and consultation from a number of different sectors, he said.

Strang said the plan is to open slowly to minimize the spread of COVID-19. 

He said a second wave of the virus is expected in fall and winter.

"We'll be better prepared for that wave based on the experience we've gone through," Strang said.

Dr. Robert Strang, Nova Scotia's chief medical officer of health, said reopening the province will take many months. (CBC)

Strang said the process will take many months. Maintaining good hygiene and practising physical distancing measures will be important moving forward, he said.

"... Public health people talk about [12-to-18 months] until we finally get enough immunity in the population that we stabilize around COVID-19," he said.

Strang ended his presentation by reminding people there is no firm date or timeline for when restrictions will be lifted.

"We're going to have to ask people to be patient and be flexible as we move through this. But it's important we move this through in a balanced and monitored way," he said.

"... There is the possibility of having to tighten things back up again, but one of our key objectives of moving slowly is to minimize the chance of that happening."

The Nova Scotia Health Authority's COVID-19 map for Friday, May 8, 2020. (Nova Scotia Health Authority)

The following is a list of symptoms for COVID-19:

  • Fever.
  • New or worsening cough.
  • Sore throat.
  • Runny nose.
  • Headache.

Anyone with two or more of those symptoms should visit 811's website for a self-assessment questionnaire to determine if 811 should be called for further assessment.

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