Parents concerned about COVID-19 alerts need to look at transmission, not exposures | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Parents concerned about COVID-19 alerts need to look at transmission, not exposures

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry.
Image Credit: FACEBOOK/Province of B.C.
November 10, 2020 - 7:00 AM

Reports of COVID-19 in schools may be on the rise in Kelowna and elsewhere, but that in and of itself isn't cause for alarm.

"As we've seen around the world and we've seen it here in B.C., what happens in schools reflects what's happening in the community," Dr. Bonnie Henry said today, Nov. 9, noting a number of exposures in Fraser Health and Vancouver Coastal areas, and also Kelowna.

"But we see very little transmission in schools, so that tells us that the layers (of protection) that we have in place in schools are working. So right now, what we need to do is focus on reducing transmission in the community, to protect the important aspects of schools, including classroom schooling."

If, however, it appeared that transmission was becoming an issue that may change, though Dr. Henry said that's not an ideal turn of events. It's important, she said, to ensure that decisions are made to keep transmission under control and one of the choices she urged was reducing extracurricular activities and sports that are outside the school environment.

"During this pandemic, we need to ensure that that education and our educational activities our school activities are prioritized for our children," she said.

"We know that this is not forever, but this year. Yes, it is important that children get physical exercise or that they participate in dance classes or our classes or or music, and we need to pick one of those (activities) outside of the school setting or focus on the activities that are related to the school, so that you're not exposing your family to multiple different groups."

Having multiple different groups and widening social networks  shouldn't be the norm right now.

"That's because this virus is spreading in our community, and it is too risky to do that," she said. "So let's focus on keeping those essential things going that we know are important for our (children's) learning and growth and and future."

If not, there is a risk schools could go online and Dr. Henry said that the first shutdown showed what a challenge that can be.

"We know that online (learning) is a challenge for many children around this province, and that underscores the importance of the in classroom learning for children everywhere in B.C.," she said.

"That's why we are taking the measures that we took in the past couple of weeks to focus on reducing our social interactions, those interactions in our community that have led to spread, so that we can protect our schools and continue to have our schools operating appropriately."

On Saturday, Dr. Henry applied a number of public health orders that limit social interactions that contact tracers have identified as fuelling the current caseload.

It is a short term pause on non-essential activities and travels to ensure that our essential activities like school and work, and healthcare can safely continue, she said, acknowledging that there are always questions when new orders come down.

Rose Valley Elementary, E´cole Glenrosa Middle School, E´cole Dr. Knox Middle School and Kelowna Secondary School had exposures announced on the same day. Virus exposures have also happened at Okanagan Mission Secondary in Kelowna, St. Joseph Elementary School and École de l’Anse-au-sable.

The outbreak at École de L’Anse-au-sable was declared over last week.

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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