Education Minister Dominic Cardy says ramped-up vaccine deliveries have him hopeful that high school students could be back in school full-time before the end of this year.
"I've always been very clear the blended-learning system we've been using is not ideal," Cardy said in an interview Monday.
"We'd like to get students back to school full-time … as quickly as we possibly can, in schools, face-to-face with teachers."
The volume of vaccine doses projected to enter the province has "changed the game," Cardy said, although he noted that any move to full-time learning would depend on "vaccinations continuing to go up and of course on case numbers staying stable and going down."
With vaccine deliveries stabilizing, he said, the plausibility of getting the vaccine not only into the province but also into the arms of teaching staff and students has improved.
"A couple of weeks after shots are in arms, he said, "my hope would be that we could move things school by school, region by region, so you'd have that protection rolling out across parts of the province geographically."
According to the province's vaccine rollout plan, high school students won't be getting their first shot until June.
However, Cardy said he's hoping to get teachers and support staff vaccinated over the course of the next few weeks, and "with the acceleration of vaccines coming into the province," possibly get high school students vaccinated sooner.
"Even if we save a month of the school year, to my mind that's better than losing that month," Cardy said.
That could also bode well for graduation ceremonies and proms, which were flattened by COVID last year.
"For a lot of students coming up to the last couple of months of their time in public school, this is a hugely big deal," Cardy said.
Cardy said he has spoken to many students who've said they'll always remember "the year they didn't have their prom, didn't have their graduation ceremonies."
They were completely reasonable about that, they understood why, Cardy said.
"But this year, if we don't have to make that sacrifice, let's not make it."
One new case reported
Public Health reported one new case on Monday, in a person aged 50-59 in the Edmundston region, Zone 4.
The case is travel-related and the person is self-isolating.
New Brunswick has seen 1,471 confirmed cases and now has 36 active cases. Since Sunday, two cases have recovered for a total of 1,404 recoveries.
There have been 30 deaths.
One patient is in hospital. A total of 240,837 tests have been conducted, including 451 since Sunday's report.
What to do if you have a symptom
People concerned they might have COVID-19 symptoms can take a self-assessment test online.
Public Health says symptoms shown by people with COVID-19 have included:
A fever above 38 C.
A new cough or worsening chronic cough.
New onset of fatigue, muscle pain, diarrhea, loss of sense of taste or smell.
In children, symptoms have also included purple markings on the fingers and toes.
People with one of those symptoms should:
Stay at home.
Call Tele-Care 811 or their doctor.
Describe symptoms and travel history.