New Brunswick Tribune

Wednesday, January 26, 2022

It’s difficult to say when school sports will be returned, as per the health minister

It's difficult to predict when school sports will be reinstated.

Key takeaways:

  • Students, parents, and New Brunswick’s school sports organisation were caught off guard by the province’s temporary suspension of youth sports.
  • Clark stated that new regulations would be implemented for younger children but not older children.

The province’s temporary suspension of youth sports caught students, parents, and New Brunswick’s school sports organization off guard.

New Brunswick student sports had packed gyms and arenas last week. There will be no games at all this week.

Andy Clark, president of the New Brunswick Interscholastic Athletic Association, told Information Morning Fredericton, “I think there could be a few steps in between that we kind of missed, maybe.”

“I’m not in charge of public health. I’m not going to second-guess their reasoning for banning sports for our children, but it does have a negative impact on our children.”

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The government ordered the cancellation of all organized children’s activities on Monday, following the arrival of the Omicron COVID-19 variant in the province.

Clark stated that new regulations would be implemented for younger children but not older children.

“I understand the need for caution,” he explained. “We’ve requested that our student-athletes be immunized.”

Clark said the organization complied with public health regulations by requiring vaccinations for spectators and athletes, requiring masks, and maintaining physical separation.

However, New Brunswick has seen an increase in COVID-19 cases, owing in part to an increase in school-related transmission. There were 1,048 active cases of the virus in the province as of Monday.

According to the health minister, the province must be nimble.

Liberal Leader Roger Melanson questioned Minister of Health Dorothy Shephard about the decision during the question period on Tuesday.

Shephard defended the province’s and Public Health’s decision.

“We understand the difficulties this causes for children,” she said. “We’re in a precarious situation.”

She speculated that the province “might go even further” regarding restrictions.

“We need to give Public Health time to review their data and provide us with concrete solutions or next steps,” she said.

Health minister says its impossible to know when school sports can be  restored
Health minister says its impossible to know when school sports can be restored. Image from Yahoo News

Shephard said she had no idea how long it would take.

“I’d love to make predictions,” she expressed her desire to do so. “But one thing we’ve learned is that we need to be flexible and pivot when necessary.”

Public Health, she said, is keeping an eye on the spread daily.

“There’s no way we can tell you what’s going to happen tomorrow,” she stated emphatically. “With COVID, we no longer have predictability.”

‘This could be the season’s first defeat.’

School sports, according to Clark, are important for students’ physical and mental health. He acknowledges that school transmission directly impacts school sports, but he hopes the temporary measures are only temporary.

“I’m hearing from some coaches across the province who are concerned that this could be another season-ending loss,” he said.

The province, he claimed, has not provided a timeline for the shutdown.

“The cases will probably dictate the length of it,” he said.

Practices and skill drills are allowed if they only involve one team at a time, and the organization has an operational plan that includes “reasonable effort to ensure distancing and sanitization,” according to the province.

While the temporary ban remains in effect, Clark said that students who can practice would do so, and he hopes that there will be a timeline that he can show students to show that the shutdown is coming to an end.

The general public signs a petition.

A public petition calling for sports to be allowed again has nearly 8,000 signatures.

The petition was started by Yves Arsenault, president of the Lamèque-Shippagan Minor Hockey Association and the Société des Jeux de l’Acadie.

He told Radio-Canada that the ban directly impacts his children, and he’s pleading with Premier Blaine Higgs to overturn the decision.

Source: CBC News

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