Kamloops school district COVID-19 exposure events on the rise | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Kamloops school district COVID-19 exposure events on the rise

School District 73 currently has the most school exposures in the Interior Health region.
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February 02, 2021 - 10:06 AM

Kamloops area schools have struggled with rising COVID-19 exposures, and the district's acting superintendent sees it as no coincidence the number of cases have grown since the winter break.

"Most folks are really trying," Dr. Terry Sullivan said. "But (exposure events) are stemming from some doing what they weren't supposed to over the Christmas break."

Before the winter break, he said, the district was having success in minimizing exposure events.

Now eight Kamloops schools are currently facing exposure event notices, the most listed in a school district in the entire Interior Health region. Sahali Secondary had exposure events on six separate days in the last two weeks.

School District 73 is not releasing case numbers for privacy reasons, but as Interior Health conducts contact tracing, students will continue to be notified to self-isolate.

While teachers will often reach out to students who are under mandatory self-isolation, Sullivan said, the district has no plans to implement a hybrid learning model citing concerns for staff wellbeing. School District 73 tends to see a group of families pull students from the classroom when an exposure event is announced, who will then wait until the public health warning is removed.

"We would be running teachers ragged by having them provide distance learning and in-class lessons at the same time," he said.

Teachers will only reach out to students who are under mandatory self-isolation, he said. So students who are pulled out of class voluntarily will not have that convenience.

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry acknowledged the increased exposure and transmissions in the Interior over the last month, particularly in schools. However, she clarified that she does not decide whether to close schools. It's up to local officials to determine risk and decide what measures are necessary.

"We've started to see increased transmission in the Interior," Henry acknowledged at a news conference yesterday, Feb. 2. "It's between the local health officer and the school health officer working with the school community to asses the risk for each particular school.

"We do see exposure events with very little transmission in schools. We know that cases in schools reflect what's happening in the community."

School District 73 currently has not closed any schools and have no plans. They plan to continue implementing safety measures as long as they can keep transmission low within the schools.

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