B.C. will only report COVID-19 clusters, outbreaks this school year | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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B.C. will only report COVID-19 clusters, outbreaks this school year

FILE PHOTO - Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry speaks to reporters at a news conference, Aug. 24, 2021.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED / Province of B.C.
August 31, 2021 - 7:00 PM

Rather than send out notices every time there’s a single case of COVID-19 in B.C. schools — as was done during the past school year — such notifications will only happen for clusters or outbreaks this time around.

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry made that point at a news briefing today, Aug. 31.

“We will not be doing the notification to schools if there’s been a single exposure,” Dr. Henry said. “They’ll be doing an assessment, as they do for every communicable disease, and every individual who’s at risk will be notified. We’ve heard, very clearly, from people that the majority of people felt the school-based letters were more anxiety provoking than helpful.

“But we will absolutely be keeping the schools informed and working with the schools with our school response team to make sure every single case in the school is identified and the contacts are managed and the people are informed about what is happening in the school setting. And, yes, every cluster or outbreak will be reported.”

Dr. Henry announced protocols for the schools earlier this month, which included mask wearing in indoor spaces.

READ MORE: Masks required for all indoor public spaces in B.C. starting tomorrow

She has insisted repeatedly that transmission in schools is proportionate to cases in the community and there is a low risk of COVID being spread in schools.

That’s one of the reasons she’s not talking about mandatory vaccinations for school teachers and staff.

Such requirements were put in place for workers in long-term care and Dr. Henry re-emphasized mandatory vaccination will be required in some acute care settings soon.

READ MORE: All staff in B.C. long term care homes must be fully vaccinated by Oct. 12

“Long-term care is a setting where, if the virus gets into it, it can have a tremendous effect on residents particularly, and we know how serious that can be and that’s why we focused on health care workers who are working in long-term care (getting vaccinated),” Dr. Henry explained.

“In settings where the downside impacts of somebody being infected are slightly less – and, absolutely we have been watching and know how important it is in avoiding infection in everybody – but this virus is with us and we know vaccination’s not 100 per cent so we have to take a measured approach.”

Early on, making vaccinations available to school staff and teachers was a priority, she said. The goal is to have such staff 100 per cent vaccinated so efforts will be made this fall to try to reach that target but it will not be required.

Dr. Henry also talked about a call she was one earlier today with her counterparts in the United States talking about increasing rates of infection there in children that were resulting in severe illness and hospitalization.

“It really looks like it’s a function of immunization in the community and, where you have rates of transmission that are very high, it affects young people as well as older people,” she said.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Rob Munro or call 250-808-0143 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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