On March 12, 2020, I wrote an open letter to Minister Churchill requesting that he reconsider what happens after March Break. In light of the growing uncertainty about many things, but absolute certainty that this is spreading fast, I wanted to make sure that this option was put on the table. We have a number of people who will be travelling during March Break and Spring Break, and there is a likely chance that some will get infected. Upon their return home, in 1 1/2 weeks, our students will be returning to school.

Although much of the reporting talks about only seniors being affected, we need to recognize that we have people of all ages that have compromised health or immune systems, and they are also at risk. People may become inadvertent carriers, although they may not succumb to the virus themselves.

What I hope to achieve, with this letter, is:

  1. making sure that those in our school system are not penalized for a two week isolation period, following their return after March Break; and
  2. making sure that an explicit is request is made, for those who are at higher risk of spreading the virus, to self-isolate.

I want our students to be safe and I want to make sure that our families, who travel abroad, do not become inadvertent carriers of this virus.

Here are some links that I’ve used in considering this letter:

Watch the ATV Evening News, from Saturday, March 14, about this

The complete text of my letter to Minister Churchill is below

Dear Minister Churchill

I am writing to you on behalf of the residents of Lower Sackville, and as a resident of Nova Scotia, about the COVID-19 virus.

The Coronavirus, or COVID-19, is a virus that we have not seen in humans before Dec 31, 2019. Since then it has spread globally, quickly. According to the WHO web site, there are currently (as of this writing) 125,288 cases globally with 4,614 deaths, and in Canada we have 93 cases with 1 death. The closest case to Nova Scotia is in New Brunswick. It is only a matter of time before it reaches Nova Scotia.

My political background started as a member of the former Halifax Regional School Board and, as such, education and schooling have always been a passion of mine.

March Break is next week and you have announced that students who are feeling fine can return to school after March Break.

We have a lot of students, parents, teachers, and other members of society that already have compromised health. In some cases it is because of a recent illness, but in many cases it is a permanent condition. These people will be at far higher risk than most for contracting COVID-19.

Please consider issuing a release that excuses all students and school staff who do not attend school for the two weeks following March Break, and also that asks all students and school staff, who have compromised health or who have travelled abroad or to an infected area, to self-quarantine for the two weeks following March Break.

We want to ensure Nova Scotians don’t panic, but we also don’t want to exacerbate the spread of COVID-19.

Thank you for your consideration in this matter.

Paul Russell
Councillor, HRM District 15 / Lower Sackville