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Central Okanagan schools see spike in potential COVID-19 exposures

If teachers ratify their agreement Thursday kids could be heading back to school early next week.
March 07, 2021 - 5:48 PM

Central Okanagan schools went two weeks without any potential COVID-19 exposures but that winning streak has definitely ended.

March came in like a lion and with the exception of one day, there’s been an announcement from the district that one or more schools have had a brush with COVID-19. As is always the case, protocols, like self-isolation mandates,  rolled into place accordingly.

In one week, George Elliot Secondary,  Davidson Road Elementary,  Peter Greer Elementary, Pearson Road Elementary, Rutland Senior Secondary, Raymer Elementary, Spring Valley Middle School and Mount Boucherie all had potential exposures, spanning multiple days.

Exposures are not infections and a report of one does not mean there has been any spread of the disease.

The Central Okanagan isn’t the only area with potential exposures, though it’s currently outpacing its neighbours in that regard.

Vernon has had exposures this week at WL Seaton, Vernon Secondary and Beairsto elementary.

In the South Okanagan, there was exposure at Oliver elementary school.

Having the hardest go with potential exposures at the moment is the  Kamloops Thompson school district which has 12 exposures. Beattie Elementary, Norkam Secondary, Arthur Stevenson Elementary, South Kamloops Secondary, Kay Bingham Elementary, Valleyview Secondary, Kamloops School of the Arts, Chase Secondary School, Savona Elementary and Brocklehurst Middle are among those that have had an exposure.

In Febrary new rules came into place. Middle and secondary students must wear masks inside schools except for when they’re at their desks in a classroom, when there is a barrier in place or when eating or drinking All staff, from Kindergarten to Grade 12, will also have to wear masks, but elementary-school students will still have the choice whether to wear one in class. Before these changes, masks were only required for all students and staff in high-traffic areas and outside of classrooms when they couldn’t safely distance from others.

Exposures are usually strongly linked to community case numbers and according to the B.C. Centre of Disease Control, from Feb. 21-27, there were 231 total cases in Interior Health, a rise from the Feb. 14-20 period when 182 cases were reported.

In the Kamloops Local Health Area, which stretches from Barriere to Logan Lake and Chase, there were 124 cases, a 46 case increase from the previous week.

In the Central Okanagan, the jump was considerably less, to 42 from 36.

Vernon saw a six-case jump, to 15 from nine, while Merritt grew seven cases, to 19 from 12.


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