School closures continue as children’s vaccine rollout remains unclear

By Geoff Agombar
Local Journalism Initiative

Even as Canada is set to receive millions of vaccine doses for 5-11-year-olds this week, details about how the vaccine will be administered to this new cohort are scant. Meanwhile, recent outbreaks among elementary-aged children have necessitated school and class closures in the Eastern Townships.
“I know Quebec has been chomping at the bit to get going. They’ve been waiting for this announcement, but as of today I have no information (about the expanded vaccine campaign),” says Eastern Townships Schoolboard Chair Mike Murray.
“There have been various conversations, but it has all been very speculative,” he adds “We’re not sure where the vaccines will be administered, whether they expect to do them in all schools or some schools, or whether we’ll be asked to bus students to central locations, or whether teams will come into schools and do it on a scheduled basis.”
“Until we proceed with phase one, which would be obtaining parent permission, we have no idea how the roll out will go,” Murray explains. “We’re not sure what the mechanics will be, but the expectation, or certainly the wish, of public health is to have a significant part of the elementary school population (receive their first shot) before Christmas.”
Meanwhile, Sunday in Val-des-Sources, another preventative closure was announced due to a spike in Covid infections. This was the third primary school closure announcement from the Centre de services scolaire des Sommets (CSSS) in three days, following two closure announcements in Magog on Friday.
École Brassard-Saint-Patrice had been closed since Nov. 16, but testing and tracing has revealed sufficient spread to necessitate a 10-day isolation of the full student body expanded precautionary measures.
École de la Tourelle in Val-des-Sources and École Sainte-Marguerite in Magog were both subject to short, preventive closures to slow the spread of the virus while efforts to test and trace contacts continued to gauge the full extent of their outbreaks.
Letters from Estrie public health and instructions from the CSSS were posted online informing parents of what is known so far and what to expect in the coming days at each school.
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