PEI students are not back in class until at least January 24

Schools in Prince Edward Island will not resume in-person learning until at least January 24. The original plan was for students to return to class on January 17.

Prime Minister Dennis King announced the delay in classroom learning during a briefing on Thursday.

The number of COVID-19 cases on the island has increased over the past week, with daily averages increasing.

This is what led to the decision to delay.

“When we open, we want to do everything we can to stay open,” King said. “Because we know starts and stops are even more difficult and confusing.”

That’s where home testing, masking, improving air quality and other measures come in, he said.

Dr. Heather Morrison, Prince Edward Island’s chief public health officer, says it will take another two weeks to see the worst of this wave of COVID-19. (Julien Lecacheur/Radio-Canada)

“Despite our best efforts and preparations, there will be cases of COVID-19 in schools,” said Dr. Heather Morrison, Chief Public Health Officer. “Our goal will be to minimize disruption to learning for PEI students and families in general.”

Exams for high school students will also be canceled for the term. Education Minister Natalie Jameson has said high-stakes education tests would be inappropriate and unfair to students. Grades for these students will be based on classroom assessments.

Watch the next 2 weeks

“We think it will be another two weeks before we see the worst of this wave,” Morrison said. “But while we take steps to decrease the slope of this curve and flatten the peak, we cannot predict the peak height of this wave.”

At present, eight people are being treated in hospital for COVID-19 and one person in the intensive care unit.

The province has announced 209 new cases of COVID-19 and 1,964 active cases on PEI. There have been 3,636 cases in total. Over the past seven days, there have been an average of 192 cases per day.

“I know how deep you dug, how hard you pushed,” King said. “We have to ask you to push just a little harder.”

New epidemics

There is a new outbreak at the Atlantic Baptist long-term care facility. Four residents and three staff members have tested positive with further testing taking place on Thursday.

There are now 13 residents and three staff members who have tested positive at the Garden Home long-term care facility.

At the Provincial Correctional Centre, seven staff members and three offenders have COVID-19. Another offender also tests positive but is not linked to the outbreak.

There are now 11 early learning centers with cases or case groups on the island. Four are still open, four are closed and three are open offering modified or limited services.

We have to ask you to push a little harder.– Prime Minister Dennis King

There are seven cases in the Charlottetown outreach community.

There are no new cases at Villa Miscouche since the previously reported outbreak. The next round of testing is Friday.

As of Wednesday, 95.9% of Islanders over the age of 12 have received a dose of the COVID-19 vaccine and 56.1% of children ages 5 to 11 have received a dose.

Financial and home learning support available

The province has announced a school-based support program for students who are having difficulty learning at home, especially those who are struggling with studies or who have problems in their home life.

Substitute teachers will be in schools to help these students learn at home.

Education Minister Natalie Jameson has said it would be inappropriate and unfair to ask students to take exams remotely when most learning has taken place in person. (Government of PEI/Zoom)

The province also provided an update on the previously announced weekly childcare allowance.

“Currently we have around 300 families receiving the allowance,” Jameson said. “Our goal is to be as flexible as possible.”

There will be an update on plans for schools beyond January 24 next week.

Current restrictions will be extended

There are changes to the rules regarding visits to long-term care homes.

Three care partners may visit, but residents are not permitted to make community visits unless it is for medical or dental reasons.

In homes where there is an outbreak, only one care partner can visit.

“These measures are in place for now and we hope not for long,” Morrison said.

Other restrictions already in place will also be extended until Jan. 24, King said.

These measures include:

  • Personal gatherings are limited to 10 regular contacts plus household, the smaller the better.

  • Wedding and funeral receptions and wakes/visits are not permitted.

  • All organized gatherings (including worship services, theaters, 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 businesses can continue to operate at up to 50% capacity with physical distancing and masks.

  • Visits to long-term care and community facilities are limited to three care partners plus three designated visitors with physical distancing.

  • Physical distancing is required in all locations up to a maximum of 50% capacity at retail businesses and Vax Pass events (including theaters, gymnasiums, community gatherings, casinos, etc.).

  • Restaurants and catering establishments must maintain a distance of six feet between tables with a maximum table size of 10 people. Proof of vaccination is required for all customers and wearing a mask is mandatory at all times, except when eating or drinking. Food premises and eating establishments must stop serving food and beverages around 11 p.m. and close at midnight.

  • No dancing at events and no karaoke.

  • Indoor sports and recreational activities continue to be suspended for Island children under the age of 12, including organized sports, tournaments, competitions, games, team training and practices.

  • League play and practices for those over the age of 12 are suspended.

  • Whenever possible, employers should support employees to work from home.

Leave a Comment