The World Health Organization said a successful return to school depends on adequate control of COVID-19 at the community level, and P.E.I.'s chief public health officer Dr. Heather Morrison is encouraging everyone to do their part before classes resume in September.
“Our children need our collective help to ensure a safe return to school and a full year of learning. We need to work together to support the successful reopening of schools by keeping the prevalence of COVID-19 low in P.E.I. and containing any community transmission," she said
The back-to-school plan is based on local epidemiology but could change if the situation with COVID-19 changes, she said Tuesday morning during a regular briefing on the coronavirus (COVID-19).
Morrison said she encourages parents to help their children get ready for the new normal in school, including the need to teach children how to put on and take off masks properly, and why sharing toys is not allowed.
“Returning to school is about much more than education. It is about overall health, well-being and development of our children,” said Morrison.
With the fall semester starting soon, Morrison said the arrival of international students at post-secondary institutions is a concern.
About 500 international and Canadian post-secondary students are expected to arrive in P.E.I. starting Tuesday morning.
Her office is working with post-secondary schools to ensure students arriving from outside the Atlantic bubble have acceptable self-isolation plans, Morrison said.
Canadian students arriving from outside the bubble may self-isolate in their school-year accommodations or in a hotel.
All international students will be isolating in designated hotels and will be tested between days 10 and 12 of their isolation period.
The chief public health officer also provided an update on P.E.I.’s professional soccer season.
On Saturday, 276 players and officials from the Canadian Premier League arrived on charter flights.
Everyone who arrived was in self-isolation for at least 14 days prior to coming to P.E.I. and had at least two negative COVID-19 tests.
Everyone was tested at their hotel within hours of arrival. Results were confirmed on Monday and all were negative. A second round of test results will be completed later this week.
All participants will be sequestered at their hotel when not on the field. All will be tested weekly for the 50-day duration of the season.
“The league is being diligent and is serious about COVID-19 restrictions and I appreciate their commitment to following public health measures and keeping Islanders safe,” said Morrison.
It has been 28 days since the last confirmed case of COVID-19 in P.E.I. All 36 cases have been travel-related.
P.E.I.’s chief of nursing Marion Dowling says P.E.I. hospitals are catching up with elective surgeries that were postponed due to the pandemic; 48 per cent of the postponed surgeries are now complete, she said.
“Our surgery rate has been at or exceeding previous-year levels for several weeks now,” said Dowling.
To keep up with the needs of Islanders, the province has hired 20 additional casual staff including service workers, resident care workers, registered nurses, licensed practical nurses and clerks. Several other candidates are in the hiring process.
“We still have a need for more temporary staff to ensure we can expand to provide the needed care for people with COVID-19 and to work at our COVID-related services such as our testing and screening clinics,” said Dowling.
Anyone interested in working in these jobs can email Health P.E.I. (email@example.com) to inquire.
AT A GLANCE:
At P.E.I.’s Tuesday’s media briefing on the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, chief public health officer Dr. Heather Morrison took a moment to reflect on all of the work done so far to keep Islanders safe during the pandemic.
- More than 22,000 COVID-19 tests completed so far in P.E.I., including 1,300 in the last week.
- A travel-authorization process to pre-approve visitors to P.E.I.
- Screening sites installed at points of entry.
- Operation Isolation to monitor those in self-isolation.
- Partnerships to ensure safe arrival of temporary foreign workers.
- A 1-800 number that has handled more than 13,000 calls from people looking for information or filing a complaint.
“There is still a long road ahead of us with COVID-19. We will continue to make the best decisions with the information available. We just do not know where or how this virus will move in the coming months,” said Morrison.