Duc d'Anville Elementary in Halifax to close next week due to COVID-19 spread

·3 min read
Duc d'Anville Elementary is located in the Halifax-area neighbourhood of Clayton Park. It was already set to be closed on Monday due to Thanksgiving, but its closure will be extended for the entire week. (Blair Rhodes/CBC - image credit)
Duc d'Anville Elementary is located in the Halifax-area neighbourhood of Clayton Park. It was already set to be closed on Monday due to Thanksgiving, but its closure will be extended for the entire week. (Blair Rhodes/CBC - image credit)

Duc d'Anville Elementary in Halifax will be closed next week to contain the spread of COVID-19 within the school, the province announced Friday.

Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Robert Strang made the recommendation acting on advice from local Public Health officials.

Strang told a news conference Friday that officials requested the closure after finding 14 cases in the school, which is in Halifax's Clayton Park neighbourhood.

He said the outbreak has been traced to a single employee whose job involved moving through school. He added no more detail out of privacy concerns.

Strang said the one-week closure should give authorities time to get a handle on the virus, but he doesn't expect it will end the threat entirely.

"We can certainly expect that once we reopen the school, it's entirely possible that we will have additional cases in the school," he said. "It doesn't mean that this closure would have failed, it's almost like the closure gives us an opportunity to reset and start again."

Parents had been pressuring authorities for a closure for days.

Julia Zwicker's four-year-old daughter, Ava, is in pre-primary at the school.

She said principal Adam Griffin had wanted to shut down the school weeks ago for deep cleaning but nothing came of it.

Zwicker said she's glad they're shutting it down now but doesn't want it closed for more than a week.

"I believe it does affect the kids' social life when they don't have school," she said.

Dave Kilgour has three children in the school in grades 1, 3 and 5.

"We think it's great news, we're kind of shocked it took this long," he said.

"Duc is a very special school, we have a large Arabic population and we've seen there has been a slower response in getting Arabic translations [of public health information], and that needs to be addressed."

Strang said officials are well aware of the cultural diversity surrounding the school.

"Everything we're producing from Public Health has been translated into multiple languages," he said.

"We're also certainly hearing that even in families where we've translated materials into a different language, a primary language for that family, there are also literacy issues.

"So we're working right now with, between Public Health, the school, the Immigrant Settlement Association of Nova Scotia, to really make sure that we're able to reach those families in the right language and the right type of information and level of information."

Strang said when the school reopens on Oct. 18, students and staff will be required to provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test. He said additional testing clinics will be set up next weekend in the area to facilitate the return to classes.

Students will do at-home learning for the week.

There will also be COVID-19 vaccination clinics set up in the community to encourage families to get vaccinated.

Concerns about potential community spread at Duc d'Anville were recently raised by parents and the teachers' union.

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