It’s been a busy weekend at Fraser Health for school alerts of exposure to a more communicable variant of COVID-19.
On Sunday, three more schools were added to the list, including two in Surrey and one in Delta.
Jordan Tinney said « two classes and over 20 people » were instructed to stay home and get tested at École Woodward Hill Elementary.
On Saturday, three people did at AHP Matthew Elementary was ordered to get tested and stay home. Tinney’s testimony did not indicate whether it was students, staff, or a combination of the two.
Three people associated with Tamanawis received the same instructions on Saturday. In an update on Sunday, Tinney added that another entire class and seven people had been assigned to isolate and search for tests.
« We are very concerned. I think a lot of parents are very concerned, » said Rani Senghera, spokesman for the Surrey County Parents’ Council, “They are very afraid of the new variant because not much is known about it.”
Schools added on Sunday include Surreys James Ardiel Elementary and Surrey Traditional Elementary and Hellings Elementary in Delta.
Fraser Health told CTV News Vancouver that Kwantlen Park Secondary also had variant exposure, but Tinney later said it did not. The superintendent said that Kwantlen Park had a positive test associated with it, however the person who commissioned the variant had never been to school during their infection period.
Fraser Health did not report how many people were instructed to be away from d The schools announced on Sunday are testing and self-isolating, but Tinney posted on Twitter about James Ardiel and Surrey Traditional. According to the superintendent, five classes at James Ardiel and two at Surrey Traditional have been assigned to stay home and get tested.
« Fraser Health identifies variant cases through the case and contact management process and notifies all close contacts. We do not publicly identify variant cases to protect the privacy of those affected, « the health authority said in a statement. “Only those employees and students who have been identified as close contacts need to be tested and contacted. The schools remain open. “
The exposure variants announced on Saturday at the three schools took place between January 26th and February 12th.
Parents of students in these schools had previously been informed of positive COVID-19 tests in the school community , but the Surrey Schools only learned that it was B.1.1.7. Variant on Saturday.
« The testing of the variant takes longer than testing with standard COVID-19, which is why we have now received this information », it says in letters to students, employees and parents of these schools.It’s not clear when the exposure at Hellings Elementary took place, but Tinney’s Sunday tweet indicates that the exposure at Surrey Traditional will be on February 4th, 5th, and 8th and that of James Ardiel on February 8th, 10th and February 11th.
On Friday, Dr. Teresa Tam, Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer, faces a potentially dramatic increase in new cases when more easily communicable variants such as B.1.1.7. in communities.
« The variant strain is faster and easier to transmit, but it does not appear to cause more serious illness, affect vaccine effectiveness, or affect our ability to test for the virus, » reads the Fraser Health Statement.
The BC Teachers Federation went on Twitter late Sunday afternoon to make a long statement calling for heightened security measures to combat the new varieties of the virus.
« BC teachers are deeply concerned on exposures related to contagious variants of COVID-19 in schools in Surrey and Delta, ”the Twitter thread began. « It is time for decisive action by government and health officials to counter this new threat to school safety. » The BCTF went on to say that there should be stricter mask mandates, including for elementary schools, and faster testing in order to slow the spread of all variants of COVID-19.
The SDPAC is also calling on the district and the BC Department of Education to do more given the different exposures.
« It’s been a year and what has really changed in our schools? The ventilation systems haven’t changed, » said Senghera. « There are no hand washing stations, especially in Surrey. The portable devices do not have hand washing stations. «
Senghera commended Tinney for quickly organizing Zoom video meetings on Sunday with SDPAC and parents of the affected schools to discuss the situation.
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