Thompson Okanagan schools see decline in potential COVID-19 exposures | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Thompson Okanagan schools see decline in potential COVID-19 exposures

February 14, 2021 - 12:00 PM

Thompson Okanagan schools are seeing a downward trend in COVID-19 school exposures.

In the last two weeks, Kamloops is the only city that reported more than two potential exposure events. Currently five schools in School District No. 73, had potential exposures within the last two weeks, including Sa-Hali Secondary, Feb. 5, Valleyview Secondary Feb. 1, 2,  and 4, David Thompson Elementary, Feb. 1-2 Juniper Ridge Elementary, Feb. 2-3 and Lloyd George Elementary Fec. 3-4.

At Sa-Hali Secondary, 200 students were directed to self-isolate last week, but the number of school potential exposures has dropped in the district.

READ MORE: 23 COVID-19 exposures reported in Thompson, Okanagan and Shuswap schools

Kamloops currently has the highest number of COVID-19 cases reported in the Interior, with 161 cases reported between Jan. 31 and Feb. 6.

The Central Okanagan has the second-highest number, with 76 cases.

Only two Central Okanagan schools have potential exposures, Dr. Knox Middle, Feb. 1 and Kelowna Secondary School, Feb. 1-5.

Vernon had one school exposure Feb. 1 at Vernon Secondary, Summerland reported a potential exposure at Summerland Secondary, Feb. 1-3, Armstrong reported one at Armstrong Elementary Feb. 1, and Merritt reported a potential exposure at Merritt Central Elementary Feb. 8-9.

Interior Health said exposure dates do not necessarily mean there is transmission within the school, and most contact tracing finds transmission occurred outside school communities.

“Schools are a reflection of our communities,” Dr. Bonnie Henry said at a press briefing, Feb. 3. “I anticipate, as we continue to have spread in our communities, we will continue to have exposures in our schools.”

All middle and secondary school students are now required to wear masks in classrooms, rather than just in common areas. Masks are still optional for elementary school students.

The only exception for the older students will be when sitting or standing at their desks or if there are physical barriers or while eating.

READ MORE: Masks mandatory in B.C. middle and high school classrooms 

B.C. Teachers' Federation President Teri Mooring responded to the government’s changes to the K–12 COVID-19 guidelines Feb. 4, with praise for some key changes and concern that some steps were not taken.

“Overall, B.C. teachers will be relieved to see the government and health officials finally move on key safety measures like a stronger mask mandate and the potential to improve access to much-needed layers of protection like barriers,” said Mooring in a press release issued by the teacher’s union.

“B.C. teachers have been pushing for critical improvements to the health and safety guidelines in our schools since they were first implemented in September. These changes are long overdue and took a tremendous amount of advocacy from our members and representatives on the government’s steering committee and working group.”

The union remains concerned that the mask mandate does not include elementary students.


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