ANTIGONISH: All three students who tested positive for COVID-19 at StFX University have recovered.

On Jan. 12, StFX received notification from Nova Scotia Public Health of a third case of COVID-19 within its student population.

“As with the two previous cases, the student has been properly isolating since arriving in Antigonish,” President Andy Hakin said. “And (they) recently returned to Antigonish by travelling from outside Atlantic Canada before beginning isolation in (their) off campus accommodation.”

The university announced on Jan. 15 the first case of COVID-19 within their community had been considered resolved and the other two students who tested positive were doing well.

Three days later, on Jan. 18, StFX confirmed all three StFX students who tested positive for COVID-19 have been cleared by Public Health and their cases are considered resolved.

“Thank you to the community for your outpouring of concern and your inquiries about the students’ well-being,” Hakin said. “This community is a testament to the understanding that our words and attitudes matter. By speaking and acting supportively, we encourage positive participation in testing and contact tracing and support for those who have been impacted by the virus.”

On Jan. 16, the province announced one case in the Eastern Zone, which takes in Cape Breton and eastern Nova Scotia, and confirmed that it is related to travel outside Atlantic Canada. The province followed up that a case reported on Jan. 17 in the Eastern Zone was tested in Nova Scotia but is a resident of another province or territory and was removed from provincial data. The person has been self-isolating, the province confirmed.

Cape Breton University in Sydney reported its first case of COVID-19 on Jan. 13 and two days later announced its second reported case – a student living on campus.

“As with the first case, it was during this isolation time the student chose to participate in asymptomatic testing, which did produce the positive result,” university president David Dingwall said. “Again, the student continues to isolate with the property health, mental health, and academic resources in place as an efficient support system.”

Last week, the Government of Nova Scotia announced it waas providing a $25 million financial boost to the province’s post-secondary sector to help manage the impact of the pandemic.

“We’ve heard from our universities and we know they are facing new challenges as their operations pivot due to COVID-19,” said Lena Metlege Diab, Minister of Labour and Advanced Education. “This funding will address some of those challenges and help meet their immediate needs.”

According to the provincial release, all 10 universities faced unexpected financial challenges for 2020-21, including loss in revenues related to tuition and residence fees. Institutions have also incurred additional COVID-19 related costs around information technology, curriculum development, and additional supports for faculty, as well as increased cleaning and other costs associated with public health directives, the province noted.

Since last March, Nova Scotia’s post-secondary institutions have been working with the province to ensure all necessary public health protocols are in place, allowing students to continue receiving quality education in ways that keeps both students and communities safe, the release stated.

The funding is expected to flow to universities in the coming weeks and is based on information provided by the universities on expenses incurred in responding to the pandemic, according to the province.

StFX University is receiving $3,646,100.

“It’s basically funding to cover-up costs that we’ve incurred related to responding to the pandemic – and being able to operate,” StFX’s VP of Finance, Andrew Beckett, told The Reporter. “The money goes directly into our operating budget, to off-set some of those costs.”

The money has already been spent, Beckett advised, noting they provided the province with a detailed plan back in September on the extra expenses because of the pandemic – extra cleaning costs, protective equipment for all their employees, and getting their physical spaces on campus ready – to name a few.

“We’re extremely welcoming, really positive to see the support from the province and recognize some of the costs we’re incurring and provide some support,” he said. “We were one of the sectors that didn’t qualify for any funding that became available through the federal government, so it was great to see the province step up and provide some assistance.”