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Province bringing back COVID-19 school notifications

Health officials in B.C. are bringing back COVID-19 school notifications. The province’s top doctor says the system will likely return by the end of this week.

Ahead of the current school year, unlike years past, Dr. Bonnie Henry said the province wouldn’t post notices of single cases, instead only posting clusters or outbreaks in schools.

BC Teachers Federation president Teri Mooring wasn’t happy about that. On Sept. 6th, the day before classes resumed, she put out a plea, urging the government to ensure public data regarding the status of COVID-19 in schools was made available.

“That data needs to be meaningful and timely,” Mooring said. “What is very important is that public reporting of data actually reduces people’s concern.”

In a press conference yesterday (Tuesday), Henry said it was initially her understanding the way officials provided broad school notifications during the last school year led to anxiety within school communities.

“But we hear from parents across the province, I hear from educators and our teams have recognized that our parents do need an authoritative source to have an understanding of what’s happening at their children’s school,” Henry noted.

That said, Henry wants to notify schools in a timely, less intrusive, and more sustainable way and reintroduce COVID-19 school notifications. She said it will ensure parents have rapid access to information regarding COVID-19 cases and exposures.

“I hope to have that in place by the end of this week so that you can have an understanding of what is happening at your child’s school,” she said.

Henry continued, “If your child has COVID, if your child has been exposed to somebody with COVID in a school system, you will be notified. It does take time to follow up on each individual case. That sometimes can take longer than you would expect, but you will be notified.”

As the province scrapped school notifications for single cases, the BC School Covid Tracker was still online. It regularly publishes the number of schools affected by at least one positive case of COVID-19 in schools. Within Island Health, the tracker currently lists over 70 school exposures since the start of this school year. Province-wide, the number grows substantially.

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