A one-week closure of a Hazelton elementary school because of a COVID-19 exposure has been extended for an additional week.
Majagaleehl Gali Aks Elementary was first closed March 1-5 because of a Feb. 26 exposure notice from Northern Health and was to open March 8 but when a second exposure notice came March 1, the closure was extended another week, until March 12.
The first and now second closures came not from school or health authorities but as a result of two Gitanmaax Band Council resolutions.
Although the school is on provincial land, access to it is through lands under the jurisdiction of the band council and the resolutions denied access through to the school property.
An exposure notice does not necessarily mean someone at the school will become sick with COVID-19 and Northern Health has been routinely issueing such notices to schools throughout the north.
School District 82 superintendent Janet Meyer noted that a school COVID-19 closure can only be authorized by the Northern Health Authority and the education ministry.
“This closure is based on the precautionary safety measures undertaken by the Gitanmaax Band Council for their community. Our appreciation is extended to the Gitanmaax Band Council for their collaborative approach working with the school district on this matter,” said Meyer.
A full sanitation of the school took place and staff, where able, will work from home or in a building adjacent to Hazelton Secondary School.
Parents and/or guardians of students were provided with details as to online learning options.
“We recognize this is an incredibly stressful time for the school staff, students and families. Let us all remember to focus on our personal well-being at this time while taking care and supporting one another, our students, staff and families,” said Meyer.
“We are extremely grateful for the resilience and perseverance demonstrated by the staff, students and families of Majagaleehl Gali Aks Elementary School during these unprecedented times.”
Also closed during this period for sanitation were the Gitanmaax daycare, nursery and other educational facilities.
With spring break to begin March 15 until March 26, the school, in fact, will be closed for a month.