'Significant changes' to COVID-19 exposure protocols in Fraser Health schools
SURREY, B.C. -- Fraser Health is changing the way it issues exposure notifications to school communities.
Surrey School District Superintendent Jordan Tinney announced the “significant changes” in a tweet Saturday morning, saying from Dec. 5, three different letters will be sent out “specifically informing people in a class whether they have been exposed or not exposed.”
Julia MacRae is the first vice president of the Surrey Teachers’ Association. She said it’s a step up from the previous protocol.
“Previously, we would receive notification that a school had had an exposure and that was not specific, it was just ... an exposure. It wouldn’t say which class, if it was a teacher or a student, or somebody else who came into the building,” MacRae said.
According to an online information bulletin, Fraser Health says it has now streamlined the assessment and notification process, and individuals could now receive one of three letters:
1. Early notification exposed: only classes where a positive case was in attendance during their infectious period will get this letter.
MacRae said these would go to people in those classes if it was a student, teacher or educational assistant in that class who tested positive for COVId-19.
“So everyone who was in that cohort who was exposed would receive that letter, it still doesn’t say who it is,” MacRae said.
2. Early notification not exposed: all others in the school will get this letter
MacRae said these letters will tell people “there was an exposure in your school, but it wasn’t in your cohort.”
3. Early notification – general: only when a case is not attached to a specific class will this letter be sent out to schools.
MacRae said these letters would be similar to the previous notification letters and could be used when the infected person is someone not assigned to a specific cohort, for example, a teacher-librarian, administrator or janitor.
These changes were made after consultations between Fraser Health, the Surrey Teachers’ Association and CUPE 728, which represents Surrey school support workers.
When asked if teachers were happy about the development, MacRae said: “We just found out about it yesterday after school (but) I think this will be welcomed.”
She said another change is that teachers on call will be actively notified if they were exposed, where previously they would have to check for the information themselves online.
But MacRae said more still needs to be done.
“This is good for the notification processes, but it’s not actually our demand. Our demand is for more prevention,” she said. “We want smaller groups of kids in one room at one time, we want a mask mandate, we want more accommodations for people who are immunocompromised.”
Dec. 6: This story has been updated from a previous version that incorrectly identified Julia MacRae as the first vice-principal of the Surrey Teachers’ Association. Her actual position is first vice president.