Schools on P.E.I. will remain closed, restrictions extended until Jan. 17
Students will be required to wear masks when in-school learning resumes
Schools on P.E.I. will not reopen until at least Jan. 17, Premier Dennis King said during a COVID-19 briefing Tuesday.
As well, restrictions put in place before Christmas that were expected to end Jan. 8 have been extended to Jan. 17.
Dr. Heather Morrison, P.E.I.'s chief public health officer, announced 198 new positive cases of COVID-19 on the Island, bringing the total number of active cases to 1,159.
"This is disheartening, but it's important to remind ourselves that we are doing quite well. We have managed this well," she said.
Morrison said she can't predict when the fourth wave of COVID-19 will end, and is compelled to take a "steady and cautious" approach.
As a result, students will begin the year with online learning, and will be required to wear masks when in-school learning resumes.
Prior to returning to class, all students and staff will be required to have two negative tests 48 hours apart, Morrison said. Principals will be offering guidance on the testing to parents in the coming days.
Students tested 3 times a week
While in school, students will be tested up to three times per week.
It's not our intention to stay in this restriction situation for any longer than we need to.— Premier Dennis King
Guidance on child-care centres is being shared with operators Tuesday.
Education Minister Natalie Jameson said the goal is to get children back in the classroom as soon as safely possible. She said new ventilation systems will be in place and triple-layered masks will available in schools.
"We recognize this is a challenging time for parents," Jameson said. "If you're overwhelmed, reach out to teachers and principals, we want to work with you."
King said they won't be waiting for case counts to get to zero before easing restrictions.
"It's not our intention to stay in this restriction situation for any longer than we need to. The when will be determined by the science, the how — that is what we're working on."
Restrictions already in place will be extended to Jan. 17, Morrison said.
Those measures include:
- Personal gatherings limited to 10 steady contacts plus household, the smaller the better.
- Wedding receptions and funeral receptions and wakes/visitation are not permitted.
- All organized gatherings (including worship services, theatres, wedding and funeral ceremonies and concerts) must operate with a maximum of 50 people with physical distancing between households. Multiple cohorts are not permitted.
- Gyms, fitness facilities and retail can continue to operate up to 50 per cent capacity with physical distancing and masks.
- Visitation to long term and community care is limited to three partners in care plus three designated visitors with physical distancing.
- Physical distancing is required in all venues up to a maximum of 50 per cent capacity in retail businesses and vax pass events (including theatres, gyms, community gatherings, casinos, etc.).
- Restaurants and eating establishments must maintain six feet distance between tables with a maximum table size of 10 people. Proof of vaccine is required for all patron and masking is required at all times except when eating or drinking. Food premises and eating establishments must stop food and beverage service at approximately 11:00 pm and close by midnight.
- No dancing at events and no karaoke.
- Indoor sport and recreational activities continue to be paused for Island children under the age of 12 years, including organized sports, tournaments, competitions, games, team training and practices.
- League play and practices for individuals over the age of 12 are paused.
- Whenever possible, employers should support employees to work from home.
Meanwhile, Morrison continues to encourage people to get vaccinated and get a booster if they are eligible, She said 45,000 people have become eligible for a booster.
She said the Charlottetown clinic will move back to the Eastlink Centre. Another clinic will open at the County Fair Mall in Summerside.
Morrison said further updates will be provided at a briefing on Thursday.