'It shocked us all': Union concerned as more COVID-19 cases detected in B.C. schools
VANCOUVER -- Two more B.C. high schools have confirmed someone who later tested positive for COVID-19 was inside the building last week.
And the cases at Delta Secondary and Johnston Heights Secondary in Surrey have prompted fresh concern from the B.C. Teachers' Federation.
“I think it shocked us all how many districts have been impacted so quickly, and I think it’s a real indication of how careful we need to be in schools,” said president Teri Mooring. “Government needs to make sure they are ensuring all these safety measures are in place. We need to all be able to count on them, and right now that’s not happening.”
Mooring is concerned about a lack of masks and insufficient cleaning inside classrooms, and large crowds of students that have gathered outside high schools this week while waiting for doors to open in the morning.
“Cohorts or learning groups are supposed to be closed groups in schools, that’s how they work,” she said. “When you see hundreds of kids gathered outside a school, it’s not good. And so I think districts may need to look at increased supervision.”
Stephanie Higginson with the B.C. School Trustees Association says districts should also consider staggering entrance times to reduce the number of students arriving at one time.
As for the new COVID cases in schools just days into the return to full in class? “As a parent, that is a little jarring,” said Higginson. “Public health has said it would happen, but that doesn’t make it easier to digest. But I also know we have a long list of safety protocols in place to help prevent spread in schools.”
The health minister said some COVID cases in schools are inevitable. “There will be cases because there are cases in society, and there are tens of thousand of people who work in school and hundreds of thousands of people who go to school,” said Adrian Dix.
But he’s still confident in B.C.’s back school plans. ”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.