Christmas is coming early for Nova Scotia students.
Premier Stephen McNeil announced public schools will be closing Dec. 18 and will remain closed until Jan. 11, extending the festive holiday by nine days.
The premier said government is changing the holiday out of an abundance of caution.
“Christmas is coming and we are concerned that as family and friends gather, even in small groups, COVID could show up’ said McNeil. “Just look what happened in some of our western provinces after Thanksgiving weekend. They saw an uptick in cases.”
While students will enjoy an extra week off, school staff will be back Jan. 4 to undergo five days of professional development.
The province’s Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Robert Strang announced nine new COVID-19 cases bringing the total active number in Nova Scotia to 65.
In the past two days, four cases have been found at the Eden Valley Poultry processing plant in Berwick. Strang announced the plant will be shut for two weeks as a result.
He says the closure is a warning that Nova Scotians can’t let their guard down and relax the precautions they’re taking against spreading the coronavirus.
“[It] is a stark reminder that we’re not through this yet and things can change very quickly. I know that people are anxious and ready to get back to something a little more normal but moving too quickly away from these restrictions can do the opposite.,” said Strang. “It can put us right back to where we were a month ago and prolong the need for extensive restrictions around COVID.”
Strang says help is on the way in the form of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine, which is expected to arrive in Nova Scotia Dec. 15.
He says public health have been running mock drills to ensure they are prepared to meet the stringent handling requirements of the vaccine.
“It is a complicated operation especially with the Pfizer vaccine, given its unique storage and handling requirements. But I hope people can see by the work that’s gone on that we are absolutely ready to receive vaccine and start administering that,” said Strang.
The premier closed the update by saying the virus moves quickly through communities and tracking it will help chart the course for the province over the next few weeks.
“Movement matters. Where we go, what we do, who we’re with and how we behave. I know how important Christmas is to families, especially those who are spread out across our province. But it is our job to do our best to keep you safe. We will have more to say about this next week.”
Reported by Ed Halverson