B.C. teachers' union calls for more testing, safety precautions as COVID-19 variant cases grow | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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B.C. teachers' union calls for more testing, safety precautions as COVID-19 variant cases grow

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February 21, 2021 - 6:00 PM

The B.C. Teachers’ Federation is calling on the Ministry of Education to ramp up COVID-19 safety and testing protocols, in the wake of new variant cases being discovered within Fraser Valley schools.

In a statement released Feb. 21,  BCTF President Teri Mooring said school districts need the authority to go above and beyond the established health and safety guidelines when necessary.

“When there is a high rate of COVID-19 within a community, a school district should be able to make regional or site-based enhancements to the safety protocols,” reads the statement.

“Those enhancements include mandating masks everywhere in specific schools, including at elementary schools, and making changes to schedules or online learning access to reduce density and increase physical distancing.”

Mooring also said school districts need to be able to exceed the health guidelines to ensure everyone in schools is better protected, especially when there has been exposure to a COVID-19 variant.

“This will help keep people in schools safe, but also prevent the variants of concern from spreading to vulnerable adults living in students’ homes,” reads the statement.

“We also need to see widespread rapid testing when a COVID-19 variant of concern shows up in schools,” Mooring said.

“This is not the time to be conservative with testing. Everyone connected to a class with a COVID-19 variant exposure should receive a rapid test. This could help find more cases and reduce the stress and anxiety that is rapidly rising.”

Students or staff at five public schools in British Columbia have tested positive for the faster-spreading COVID-19 variant first discovered in the United Kingdom, health officials said Sunday.

A statement from the Surrey School District to parents says the strain that originated in the U.K. at two of the schools were connected to positive cases dating back to Jan. 26 because testing for the variants take longer than the standard COVID-19 test.

While exposure warnings are increasing in school districts, the Interior is thus far seeing fewer than in the height of the pandemic.

For the first time since COVID-19 has been in school, and it’s still been in session, the Central Okanagan school district is reporting no recent exposure risks.  Independent school, Kelowna Christian School had a potential exposure Feb. 9, 10 and 11.

In the Kamloops Thompson school district, Kamloops there have been potential exposures at Sa-Hali Secondary on Feb. 5 and 16, at Valleyview Secondary on Feb. 9, 10, 11 and 12 and South Kamloops Secondary Feb. 5, 8, 9, 10, 11 and 12.

In the North Okanagan Shuswap School District Armstrong Elementary had a potential exposure: Feb. 5,  and Salmon Arm’s South Broadview Elementary had a potential exposure Feb. 8, 9 and 10.

In the Vernon school district,  Kidston Elementary there was a potential exposure on Feb. 9, 10 and 11.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Kathy Michaels or call 250-718-0428 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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