COVID-19 exposures: 184 Lower Mainland schools on health authority lists
The number of COVID-19 exposures in Lower Mainland school continued to climb this week, even as caseloads showed signs of declining province-wide.
As of Friday, there were 184 schools listed on the public exposure notification websites for Fraser Health and Vancouver Coastal Health, an increase from the 167 that were listed as of last Friday.
The vast majority of the exposures listed are in the Fraser Health region, where health officials imposed new restrictions on some communities with higher rates of infection and lower rates of immunization late last month.
Fraser Health's website showed 175 schools with exposure notices over the last two weeks, many of them with multiple exposure dates listed.
B.C. health authorities post public notifications about exposures in schools whenever a student or staff member attends school while infectious and health officials believe there is an increased risk of COVID-19 transmission at the school.
Fraser Health removes schools from its list 14 days after the last date of exposure, meaning many - if not most - of the schools on the list this week were also listed last week.
Vancouver Coastal Health, meanwhile, removes schools from its list four weeks after the last date of exposure. Despite this longer timeframe, the website listed just nine schools on Friday, up from five the week before.
However, last week there were five schools in the health authority listed on the crowdsourced and parent-run BC School COVID Tracker that had not been added to the health authority's list. Some of those have since been added, and only one school added to the crowdsourced tracker over the last week was missing from the VCH list as of Friday.
Asked about the discrepancy between the two health authorities' lists last week, Fraser Health referred CTV News to the provincial Ministry of Health.
The ministry responded on Wednesday with a statement that read, in part:
"B.C.’s regional health authorities are all complying with the provincial health officer’s instructions to post potential exposure events on their websites 'if a person (staff or student) attended school while infectious, and there is increased risk of COVID-19 to the groups they were a part of.'"
"It’s important to note that risk level depends on many factors, including vaccine coverage and background rates of COVID-19 in the community," the statement continued.
The statement also noted that there is sometimes a lag between the notification of parents, teachers and students at a school and the public notification posted on a health authority's website.
"Web postings are for public awareness only, and are updated after an initial investigation is complete, and direct communication with affected individuals has occurred," the ministry said.