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Schools have resumed in New Brunswick despite the COVID-19 pandemic

by Cédric Ayisa - September 11, 2020   598 Views   4 min
Schools have resumed in New Brunswick despite the COVID-19 pandemic

Claim

Schools have resumed in New Brunswick despite the COVID-19 pandemic

Verdict

Accurate (supported by evidence and facts; acceptable margin of error)

On September 8, 2020, a Global News article headlined that schools have resumed in New Brunswick despite the COVID-19 pandemic. This information is accurate.

What are the stakes?

The COVID-19 pandemic has transformed not only the education system, but also the way families function in Canada and elsewhere. The closure of schools and the shift to virtual courses have forced students and teachers to make a rapid and, for many, painful transition. Parents, in addition to adapting to working remotely, must also deal with children who miss their friends, school and daily routines.

In Canada, more than 5 million students are enrolled in public elementary and secondary schools. With the COVID-19 situation, parents and faculty are concerned about a return to the classroom because of the risks to which everyone is exposed. In New Brunswick, classes resumed in early September, as in many other parts of the country. The number of positive cases in the province is relatively low compared to other provinces in the country: as of September 10, 2020, 193 people were confirmed to have contracted the virus, of which 188 recovered and 2 died. Returning to the classroom requires increased monitoring of precautions and guidelines, which vary from one province or territory to another.

Why are there so many opinions and debates about going back to school? It’s a question of balancing risks and benefits, and not everyone has the same understanding or tolerance for risk.

Health risks

The health risks of children going back to school are generally divided into three categories. The risk of children catching and spreading the COVID-19 virus among themselves and falling ill. The risk of school personnel transmitting the virus to children. And the risk of children transmitting the virus to teachers and other school staff, as well as to others who are in their immediate environment.

At the beginning of the pandemic, children were thought to be less contagious than adults because they had milder symptoms or were asymptomatic. According to the World Health Organization, children can contract COVID-19. However, they are less likely than adults to fall ill and die. As explained in one of our articles, children can also transmit the virus to others, including their classmates. But they also have fewer serious manifestations of the disease. This is an argument we often hear from those in favor of a return to school in person.

What makes a return to school more complex is the risk that children who have contracted COVID-19 and have no symptoms can pass the virus on to teachers and school staff when classes are held in person and, more importantly, bring it home.

Studies show that children as young as 10 years of age are as contagious as adults. Anyone who has a child knows how many times in a year he or she can pass a virus to his or her parents, whether it’s a respiratory virus or another type of virus. Some teachers, parents or grandparents may have underlying conditions and become seriously ill or die from COVID-19.

Schools are therefore potentially high-risk places for students, teachers, parents and the community. This is why, according to Sickkids, the reopening of schools, in addition to being dependent on compliance with health authorities' measures, also depends on the existing community transmission rate.

Mental health risks for children

Issues surrounding children's mental health and COVID-19 were raised early in the pandemic. The transition to online courses, the closure of daycares, schools, recreation centers and playgrounds may, according to experts, have negative consequences for children's physical and mental health.

A study by Children's Mental Health Ontario found that 34% of parents in Ontario reported that their child's mental health deteriorated after school closures and over 59% of parents noticed changes in their children's behaviour, ranging from seizures or extreme irritability to drastic changes in moods, behaviour or personality and difficulty sleeping/altered sleep patterns and persistent sadness.

Now, with the start of the new school year, anxiety is returning. Integrating new rules into schools can be a source of anxiety and stress for some students. In this regard, Canadian authorities have put in place resources to help the youngest students overcome issues.

Risks of educational delay in children

The Government of Canada points out that changes in schools have the potential to create gaps in education and have other consequences for many children, especially those in vulnerable situations. They include children who depend on school meals, receive counselling, live in situations of violence or domestic abuse, have disabilities, and rely on guaranteed education and social support to maintain their health and ensure their inclusion in the community. School is therefore a place for socialization, learning and also the promise of a decent life.

Economic risks for parents

From an economic point of view, when schools closed, low-income parents were unable to maintain the balance between their work and their children's education at home and online. With the start of the school year many of these parents are willing to send their children to school because of lack of options. The returning of children to schools also represents an increase in productivity and an economic revival for the country.

Recommendations

The World Health Organization (WHO) has established guidelines for the re-opening of schools during the pandemic. However, measures must be adopted according to the situation in each region. In Canada, each province and territory has developed a school re-opening plan. At the national level, the federal government has also issued recommendations to limit the risk of spread of the COVID-19 and to better accommodate students and teachers safely.

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  • October 07, 2020

    In a paper on the use of masks by children, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), taking into account factors such as children's psychosocial needs and developmental stages, stated that children aged 5 and under should not be required to wear masks for safety reasons. In addition, children with developmental disabilities, handicaps or other health problems should also not be required to wear masks. In this regard, WHO and UNICEF suggest a case-by-case approach. 

    For children aged 6-11 years, the decision to require them to wear a mask should be based on factors such as the risk of community transmission, the child's ability to use a mask appropriately and safely, the availability and maintenance of masks, psychosocial development, and the child's interactions with others. 

    For children 12 years of age and older, this is not an issue. It is recommended that they wear a mask under the same conditions as adults, especially when it is not possible to maintain a distance of at least one meter from others and when community transmission is widespread. However, when children are involved in sports or play, they should not wear masks, so as not to interfere with breathing. 

    Despite these recommendations on mask use by children, WHO still recommends consulting and following local authority guidelines to control the spread of COVID-19. 

Government of New-Brunswick

https://www2.gnb.ca/content/gnb/en/departments/health/news/news_release.2020.09.0476.html

https://www2.gnb.ca/content/gnb/en/corporate/promo/education-and-early-childhood-development-covid-19.html

Government of Canada

 https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/diseases/2019-novel-coronavirus-infection/health-professionals/guidance-schools-childcare-programs.html

Statistics Canada

https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/n1/daily-quotidien/171103/dq171103c-eng.htm

CDC

https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/eid/article/26/10/20-1315_article

Public health Ontario

https://www.publichealthontario.ca/-/media/documents/ncov/main/2020/08/covid-19-school-closure-reopening-impacts.pdf?la=en

Youth Mental Health Canada

https://ymhc.ngo/resources/covid-19/

Children's Mental Health Ontario

https://cmho.org/covid-19-mental-health-impacts/

Sick Kids

http://www.sickkids.ca/AboutSickKids/Newsroom/Past-News/2020/joint-statement-school-reopening.html

http://www.sickkids.ca/PDFs/About-SickKids/81407-COVID19-Recommendations-for-School-Reopening-SickKids.pdf

New England Journal Of Medecine

https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMms2024920

CTV News

https://www.ctvnews.ca/health/coronavirus/mask-mandates-class-caps-back-to-school-rules-by-province-1.5042739

World Health organization (WHO)

https://www.who.int/docs/default-source/coronaviruse/transcripts/who-audio-emergencies-coronavirus-press-conference-29apr2020.pdf?sfvrsn=aaa81d24_2

https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/question-and-answers-hub/q-a-detail/q-a-for-adolescents-and-youth-related-to-covid-19

https://www.who.int/publications/i/item/WHO-2019-nCoV-IPC_Masks-Children-2020.1

https://www.who.int/news-room/q-a-detail/q-a-children-and-masks-related-to-covid-19 

  Claim

Global News

Organization
Schools have resumed in New Brunswick despite the COVID-19 pandemic

Verdict:

Accurate (supported by evidence and facts; acceptable margin of error)

 September 11, 2020


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