Transmission of COVID-19 among children low in B.C., Dr. Henry says as classes resume | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Transmission of COVID-19 among children low in B.C., Dr. Henry says as classes resume

Dr. Bonnie Henry May 25.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED / Province of B.C.
May 25, 2020 - 5:16 PM

In-class learning is going to be a lot different for students across B.C. next week, and probably next fall as well, as measures aimed at controlling transmission of COVID-19 roll out.

"All of those details, of course, are being worked out primarily by the Ministry of Education with us providing support," provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said today, May 25. "We're looking at how things go, how we're able to manage."

Come next week, classes will be smaller and Dr. Henry said that the emphasis will be on ensuring all the measures to reduce the possibility of transmission are in place. In some cases that will mean remote learning and that innovation may stick around.

"I expect there'll be some degree of a hybrid system, come the fall as well," she said.

While some of the parameters of a new school day have been laid out — including smaller classes, fewer days in class, among others — parents were given a clearer perspective this week on back-to-school conditions.

In a memo to parents of a West Kelowna elementary school, parents were told that students will be seated apart from their peers in the classroom.

Physical distancing will be expected with “hands-to-self” expectations and that students will be expected to wash their hands when entering and exiting the building, when they are changing classroom activities that involve common spaces, before eating and at the bathroom.

Any students exhibiting signs of illness will be isolated and parents will be called to pick-up if and when an illness is noted.

The schools will be locked during the day and parents will not be allowed in. Playtime after school on the schoolyard will also be cancelled.

While Dr. Henry said transmission to children is quite low, reports of a Kawasaki-like syndrome do seem to be on the rise in other countries that are more hard hit by the pandemic.

"We never knew exactly what the cause was of Kawasaki syndrome, but it has arisen, mostly in younger children after infections — some viral infections, some bacterial infections," she said, adding that the connection to COVID-19 is one that's being explored.

It's been made a reportable condition here in B.C., which means that public health can go back and look to January to see if there were any cases of Kawasaki syndrome and whether they were connected to COVID-19.

Dr. Henry said there are at least half a dozen cases that they're investigating.

"None has yet been confirmed to be related to COVID-19," she said.

"We don't have any known confirmed (Kawasaki) cases related to COVID-19 yet in the province, but that investigation is still ongoing and I will keep you up to date as we as we learn more about this syndrome."

It is, she said, still quite rare and there have been three COVID-19 related deaths of children in the United States.

"It is something that we are watching very very carefully and the data still is coming in, around children being affected by COVID-19," she said.

"It is clear around the world that (children) are less likely to be infected with COVID-19 than adults, and in B.C. that bears out as well where children under 10, in particular, are less than one per cent of the cases that we've seen here in the province."

In fact, the total number of cases infected is 27 under the age of 10.

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