Rising COVID cases could derail planned restart of youth programs

ST. MARY’S – As the number of Covid-19 cases continues to rise across the province, the District Municipality of Saint Mary’s is cautiously monitoring the progression of the virus before deciding whether or not to resume youth recreation programs after vacations.

The council had set a provisional reopening – after cutting off learning to figure skating, free skates, house league hockey, learning to skate and learning to master healthy meal courses for young people on December 16 – from 5 January. This could be further delayed, depending on the number of Covid cases in the new year.

St. Mary’s Active Living Coordinator Mallory Fraser expressed serious reservations to council last month about allowing young people – whose comparatively low vaccination rates make them more vulnerable to the highly transmissible strain Omicron – to mingle with adults in regular recreational programs offered by the municipality.

“We don’t want one of our recreation programs to become a broadcast event,” she said. “We have young people who are in different classes and who are currently not allowed to mix with their peers at school. Taking them and putting them in environments where they could essentially be unmasked, say, a cooking schedule when they eat, is, in my opinion, taking an unnecessary risk. Numbers [of infections] do not decline and we need to be proactive rather than reactive in these situations.

As the holiday season began, Nova Scotia was reporting hundreds of new cases of Covid per day and was on the rise. Although the area is largely rural the province – which includes Guysborough and Antigonish counties, as well as Cape Breton – experiences far fewer infections than the central Halifax-dominated area, the public resources available to fight the spread have been stretched everywhere. In mid-December, the St. Mary’s municipal office announced that it was out of rapid test kits.

“I have no problem leaving the adult recreation programs open, but I would say the risk now is with the kids who aren’t all vaccinated,” Director Greg Wier told the board. “The best thing we can do now is protect them. ”

Council agreed to monitor the situation during the holiday season and to base its decision on when to reopen youth recreation programs on current conditions.

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