Atlantic bubble delay causing stress for some university students

·4 min read
Atlantic Veterinary College student Brittney Dow with her dog outside her apartment in Charlottetown. Dow says the mental toll of not seeing family during a stressful program is difficult.  (Brittany Spencer/CBC - image credit)
Atlantic Veterinary College student Brittney Dow with her dog outside her apartment in Charlottetown. Dow says the mental toll of not seeing family during a stressful program is difficult. (Brittany Spencer/CBC - image credit)

Post-secondary students who had plans to travel to or from the Island next week are facing disappointment and stress due to the delay in the opening of the Atlantic bubble.

Some students returning home after the winter semester now have to self-isolate for two weeks, while others had to cancel plans to visit family in the Maritimes during a break before summer work.

"I felt quite defeated," said Atlantic Veterinary College student Brittany Dow on her reaction to the news of the bubble not opening before May 3 at the earliest.

"This was sort of my last chance to get home and see my parents [in New Brunswick] before my fourth-year clinical rotations started. Once those start, I knew I wouldn't have a chance to go home," said Dow.

A lot of people at school are really struggling — Brittney Dow

Dow just finished her third-year veterinary exams and only has a two-week break before her rotations start on May 3.

"Fourth year, it's exciting, but it's a big stressor weighing on me. And I was really hoping to get home and just decompress with my family before that all started," she said.

"It feels pretty stressful heading into that … not having that physical support there is pretty tough and intimidating."

'Hope to return to normalcy'

For Dalhousie student Rachel Murray, the delay in the bubble's opening means she has an unplanned 14-day self-isolation ahead of her.

Dalhousie pharmacy student Rachel Murray now has to self-isolate at her parents’ home on P.E.I. for two weeks upon her return from Halifax.
Dalhousie pharmacy student Rachel Murray now has to self-isolate at her parents’ home on P.E.I. for two weeks upon her return from Halifax. (Submitted by Rachel Murray)

Murray has been doing her third-year pharmacy courses online from home in P.E.I. all year, but had to go to Halifax earlier this week for in-person exams.

"It was upsetting to get the news, probably because I hadn't planned for it," said Murray.

"I had planned to return within the Atlantic bubble … having this hope to return to normalcy."

Murray counts herself lucky that she can self-isolate in a separate room in her parents' home, but said there is still a mental toll to that.

For Islander Keith Ford, the news of the bubble delay didn't come as a surprise.

Ford's daughter Sydney graduates from Mount Allison University in Sackville, N.B., this year and was planning to move home Monday.

Now, she'll be self-isolating in a separate room in her parents' home.

"We had a plan A and a plan B, and now plan B is the one we're going with," said Ford.

Keith Ford's daughter Sydney will have to self-isolate in his home for two weeks after returning from Mount Allison University in Sackville, N.B.
Keith Ford's daughter Sydney will have to self-isolate in his home for two weeks after returning from Mount Allison University in Sackville, N.B. (Brittany Spencer/CBC)

Ford will drive to New Brunswick to pick up his daughter and drive back home the same day, which means he won't have to self-isolate upon returning to P.E.I.

Dr. Heather Morrison confirmed that parents are eligible for the same-day isolation exemption when picking up their children from universities in another Atlantic province.

"You do not stay overnight, you don't shop, you don't visit other public places on your way to pick up your son or daughter," said the chief public health officer.

"Pack a lunch where possible and use drive-thru options and pay at the pump where possible, if you need gas."

'I know it's a challenge'

The province also recommends the student wears a mask in the car and sits in the back seat on the drive home.

Morrison also said the province can support students who don't have a location to self-isolate and have to return to P.E.I. before the bubble opens.

"I know it's a challenge for [students], as it is for everybody," said Morrison.

For Dow, not getting to see her family is a tough pill to swallow, though she understands the reason for the bubble delay.

"Being in veterinary medicine, I'm well aware of why these public health measures have to be put in place," said Dow.

"But that doesn't mean that we as students don't still struggle and don't still get affected, our mental health by this. And a lot of people at school are really struggling."

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