COVID-19 Roundup: Schools stay closed, provincial reopening plan in the works, fighting food insecurity

Dr. Robert Strang. Photo: CNS

Over the weekend, Nova Scotia confirmed seven new cases of COVID-19, bringing the provincial total to 1,018. Halifax’s Northwood long-term care home has 157 residents and 20 staff with active cases. Nova Scotia has 33,579 negative test results, 1,018 positive tests, and 47 deaths. Nine people are currently in hospital, three in ICU. Some 749 people have recovered. “Everything we are all doing to slow COVID-19 is working, but we are not out of the woods,” says Dr. Robert Strang, Nova Scotia’s chief medical officer of health, in a press release. “This will be a many months-long process and we must remain vigilant.”

School’s out
In Friday’s media briefing, Strang and Premier Stephen McNeil announced that schools will not reopen this academic year. At-home studies will continue, with the school year ending June 5, according to a press release. Teachers will continue to work until the end of June to complete assessments and other tasks. Licensed daycares will remain closed until at least June 5.

Reopening plan
Plans are in the works to reopen the province. Government says the plan will feature phases of up to 28 days each, guided by:

  • Advice from the Public Health Agency of Canada
  • Status of COVID-19 in the province
  • Consultation with sectors
  • The ability for people and businesses to continue to follow public health measures

“We must take a slow and methodical approach if we are to safely bring Nova Scotia back to normal,” Strang says in a press release. “No decisions have been made. We are working on a reopening plan that balances public safety with the need to increase economic and social activity. The first phase is still some weeks away.”

Lessons from New Brunswick
As neighbouring New Brunswick advances with its reopening plan, it may offer a preview of what Nova Scotians can expect. While some businesses are reopening, public-health officials continue to emphasize distancing. “WorkSafeNB encourages all businesses to think outside of the traditional work environment,” says the Saint Croix Courier. “Consider alternate working arrangements such as working remotely, flexible hours, staggered start times, and the use of virtual meetings.”

Bubble tea. Photo: Chris Stoodley

On the bubble
Pre-pandemic, Taiwanese bubble tea was the hottest Halifax dining trend, and a much loved taste of home for many international students. Jiaxin Hu, a Dalhousie University kinesiology student from China, explains. “Grabbing a cup of bubble tea and spending our time in the store was kind of like entertainment,” she says. In his first story for Halifax Magazine, Chris Stoodley looks at why bubble tea is much more than a drink.

Teaming up to feed Nova Scotians
Access to nutritious food is a problem for many Nova Scotian children, which the pandemic just makes worse. “How do we reach out to families during COVID-19 who might be facing food insecurity, who might be missing those meals when they’re currently not at school?” says Janet Brand-Balignasay from the Chignecto-Central Regional Centre for Education. In Pictou County, Summer Street Industries and SchoolsPlus are taking on that challenge, delivering food boxes to some 140 local families. Raissa Tetanish reports for The Pictou Advocate.

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This story was originally published in Halifax Magazine.

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