Most B.C. schools were COVID-safe places this fall: Dr. Bonnie Henry | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Most B.C. schools were COVID-safe places this fall: Dr. Bonnie Henry

Kamloops author Susan Mark's pandemic children's book, Safe at School, follows the teachings of Dr. Bonnie Henry who says children were, in fact, safe at school this fall.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED / Susan Mark
December 24, 2020 - 12:00 PM

Although there were 526 COVID-19 exposures in B.C.’s schools this fall, that actually only affected about 30 per cent of the province’s almost 2,000 schools, according to provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry.

That includes 30 schools in the Central Okanagan school district, which had the vast majority of exposure events in the Interior Health region.

An exposure event is when someone who has tested positive for COVID may have been in a school when they could potentially be infectious, Dr. Henry said during a news conference yesterday, Dec. 13. That doesn’t mean they transmitted the disease.

READ MORE: Absentees up in Central Okanagan schools as kids pulled for Christmas quarantine

“I know there’s a lot of anxiety about transmission in schools, about exposures in schools,” she said. “The data shows that we’re not seeing schools being a place that transmission spreads widely. That tells us that, when the safety protocols that are placed in schools are followed, it is a very safe environment and transmission is very unlikely.”

Less than one per cent of school children who have been tested for COVID-19 have tested positive, she said, compared to seven per cent of the general population.

The vast majority of schools (292) that have had exposure events were elementary schools and most of the affected schools in B.C. have been in the Fraser Health region, particularly Surrey.

READ MORE: Kamloops author of pandemic children's books sells 1,000 copies

In the Lower Mainland, 90 per cent of students and staff who were infected caught the virus outside the school setting. Of those, three-quarters were students and one quarter were staff.

In 90 per cent of these cases, there were no transmissions in the schools and when there was it was usually between adults.

“This is something we have taken very seriously from the very beginning,” Dr. Henry said. “The importance of children and educators being in the school system and having that in-class interaction is something that we know is important for the long term growth and development of our children.”

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