All COVID-19 outbreaks in schools will be disclosed but not every case: Dr. Henry | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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All COVID-19 outbreaks in schools will be disclosed but not every case: Dr. Henry

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry
Image Credit: Province of British Columbia
September 10, 2020 - 4:31 PM

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry has promised to announce outbreaks in schools when they happen, as expected, this fall.

But not every case will be shared with the public. It all comes down to the definition of an outbreak.

“Likely, both adults and children right now, because we have transmission in our communities, may have the virus and may develop the symptoms and become sick when they’re attending school or at home before going in to school,” Dr. Henry said at a news conference today, Sept. 10. “If there’s no transmission event in the school or there’s no exposure when somebody is infectious in the school, then that is not considered an outbreak. That’s not considered a school case.”

In such situations the “school family” will be notified that there may be a case in the school but it may not require anyone else to stay home.

“An outbreak is where we see transmission between people in a school setting where additional measures have to take place,” she said. “That’s what we will be reporting on to everybody.”

Students are divided into cohorts to keep the number of people they interact with small. There may be cases where some or all of the cohort will have to stay away from school and be quarantined, but she doesn’t see a situation where the whole school will be closed because of that.

The only time she can see a whole school closing is if too many adult staff members get sick or have to be put in quarantine so the school can’t be operated safely. That could be teachers getting together and inadvertently spreading the disease to each other, Dr. Henry said.

It’s also highly unlikely that the whole school system will be shut down because of COVID-19 as it was in the spring.

“That would mean that we were in dire straits in many other aspects of our community and that’s what we’re absolutely trying to avoid,” Dr. Henry said.

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