‘It is a bit of a knee-jerk reaction’: Parents react to N.B. education minister’s travel memo

Students and parents returning from international travel are being ordered to avoid public schools for two weeks upon their return, according to a memo from Education Minister Dominic Cardy.​​​

The memo sent home to parents on Monday evening stated that children, students, staff, volunteers and family members returning home on or after March 8th are to stay away from schools, early learning facilities and school district offices.

“I think it is a bit of a knee-jerk reaction to some pressure from people who are scared,” said Moncton mother, Lesley Northrup, who said she understands the province’s need to take precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

But she believes the move is excessive.

She and her 17-year-old daughter Isabella were wrapping up their March break vacation in Southern California when they received the emailed memo.

“I think that the decision has not been made using logical thinking,” said Northrup.

She said her daughter will now miss part of her graduating year at Riverview high school upon their return.

“How do they plan to educate her, will they do Skype classes?”

Those details were not outlined in the memo, but the education minister has been scheduled to hold a press conference in Fredericton on Tuesday afternoon.

Moncton’s Lynn Fougere is looking for clarification as to whether or not the restrictions also apply to parents traveling outside of Canada without their kids.

She is heading to Las Vegas for work on Thursday and doesn’t want her 15-year-old daughter to be forced to miss school upon her return because of her work schedule.

“I think it is horrible. It’s not here and how is this going to be policed in the schools?” said Fougere.

She is calling on the education minister to address parents’ concerns.  She said with no federal public health travel restrictions in place for the US, if the restrictions do apply to travel south of the border, she believes Cardy is overstepping his authority.

“There’s cases in Toronto and there’s cases in BC. Why are those areas ok?” said Fougere.

She isn’t sure how to proceed since she has already spent 2,500 dollars for her trip.

“My travel insurance says that because there are no travel bans to this area that my cancellation insurance is not in effect because of it,” she said.

The memo also stated that all international school-related travel has been cancelled for the rest of the school year.

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