The Gleaner
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New round of COVID adaptations in schools as cases decline

The number of new COVID-19 cases being diagnosed across the Montérégie has stabilized, after having been on the rise over the past eight weeks. The Institut National de Santé Publique du Québec is reporting a total of 2 cases in the Haut-Saint-Laurent local health network (LHN), 56 cases in the Suroît LHN, and 72 cases in the Vaudreuil-Soulanges LHN.

The Haut-Saint-Laurent continues to lag behind other MRCs in the Montérégie when it comes to vaccination rates. At the moment, just over 73 per cent of the population (not including residents of Akwesasne) has received a first dose, while just under 70 per cent is considered to be adequately vaccinated. The 30-39 age cohort is the least vaccinated, with under 54 per cent in this age group considered to be fully vaccinated. The regional average for a single dose is currently just under 80 per cent, while over 76 per cent of the Montérégie population has received both inoculations.

As of the end of September, there were 68 outbreaks across the region, with the majority of those affecting school and work environments. There are no cases reported in Valley schools at the moment.

Despite the stable situation at local schools, most cases across Quebec are being diagnosed amongst school-aged children. In an attempt to control the spread of the virus through elementary schools in advance of vaccination options, the provincial government announced another set of preventive measures which went into effect in area schools on Monday.

Procedural masks will now have to be worn in physical education classes when they take place indoors and when social distancing is not possible. At the moment gym classes are taking place outside whenever possible, and activities will be adjusted accordingly should students be asked to wear masks.

All kindergarten students will also now have to wear a procedural mask when using school transportation.

Elementary schools are preparing for the use of rapid test kits for COVID-19. The tests are currently not in use at schools; however, the criteria for their use, staff trainings, and procedures are being established. Parental consent will be mandatory for all schools deploying the rapid tests kits.

The New Frontiers School Board acknowledges that quick adjustments to COVID-19 protocols may be challenging for parents and students. The measures are aimed at curtailing the transmission of the virus while preventing possible isolation orders and class or daycare group closures.

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