Two cases of COVID-19 in B.C. schools prompts union complaint system isn't working - InfoNews

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Two cases of COVID-19 in B.C. schools prompts union complaint system isn't working

Image Credit: ADOBE STOCK
September 15, 2020 - 2:46 PM

Two possible COVID-19 exposures were reported at two Metro Vancouver secondary schools within the first few days of classes resuming, prompting the teachers' union to take to social media to say the return-to-school plan isn’t working.

"COVID-19 cases already popping up in schools. #bcpoli, sticking to the plan as is = bad idea," Rich Overgaard, the assistant director of communications and campaigns at B.C. Teachers' Federation said in a tweet that was retweeted by the union.

"Start reducing density and class sizes. Let people spread out. Classes are jammed, cohorts are busted the moment kids walk outside. That the cases popping up indicates that sticking to the plan as is, is a bad idea."

Parents in districts around B.C., including the Central Okanagan, have taken to social media in recent days to comment that the idea of physical distancing seems lost on teens and children piling up around schools before and after school.

That said, there have yet to be any cases in the Southern Interior.

Health minister Adrian Dix said today, Sept. 15, the cases in schools are a reflection of what’s happening in the greater community and in recent weeks the southern Interior of B.C. has fared much better in its COVID-19 case count than its counterparts south of the Fraser River, where the school cases have been recorded.

“Dr. Henry indicated this a number of weeks ago, that there will be cases because there are cases in society and there are tens of thousands of people working in school and hundreds of thousands of people who go to school,” Dix said.

He said it's important to take the steps to support schools if a case occurs.

“I think, hopefully everybody agrees with this, that children need an opportunity to learn and get back to school, and the health consequences of that not happening, are significant as well,” he said.

Dix was also asked whether there would be a reporting system for COVID-19 exposures in schools.

In B.C., schools can send out letters but there’s no wider alert system.

Parents in Ontario, however, can now access data on COVID-19 outbreaks in schools and child-care centres through a website launched by the provincial government. The website will be updated every weekday and include a summary of cases, as well as more detailed information on where the numbers come from.

As of this morning, the website showed 29 cases at schools in Ontario, between students and staff members.

Dix said the COVID-19 dashboard and the twice weekly press conferences and daily counts does offer transparency, but he is open to other approaches.

There is, however, a broader debate being had about privacy and releasing information that would be identifying for people.

“School officials are letting the people who really need to know, people in that school know what's going on and I think they're doing that, across the province as well and so there are protocols and I think those protocols are being followed,” he said.

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