B.C. to publish a list of school COVID-19 exposures, outbreaks

Fraser Health first to publish a list, but with no details

The B.C. government intends to publish online all COVID-19 school exposure and outbreak events.

The move follows the first of five health authorities to provide its own online list of exposures or outbreaks, a ministry spokesperson confirmed.

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Fraser Health announced Wednesday a web page that will list all such events by school district.

The website does not provide any details of a so-called exposure and it’s not yet clear if more details will be provided for an outbreak and whether such details will be updated as cases are confirmed.

An exposure is when someone who attended the school tested positive for COVID-19 and does not mean the disease was transmitted. Only an outbreak notice is an indication public health authorities have determined transmission in a school setting.

Parents do not need to take action if there is an exposure event, unless contacted by a health official (contact tracer) or school official, states Fraser Health.

“We have a responsibility to be transparent, clear, and current in our communication to parents, teachers, and students about COVID-19 exposures in schools in our region, and the launch of our COVID-19 school exposures webpage provides us with an opportunity to do just that,” said Dr. Victoria Lee, Fraser Health president and CEO, via a media statement. “This new page is a tool for us to help keep the lines of communication open and give schools and families the resources they need to feel safe and reassured.”

Fraser Health oversees 11 school districts between Burnaby and Hope, including Delta and Surrey.

The list shows six exposure events, to date. One at Delta secondary school and five others in Surrey.

More details appear to be provided specifically to parents via the school districts, who are in cross communications with the health authority.

In a letter to parents Wednesday, Delta district superintendent Doug Sheppard noted a key point for families to remember is that Fraser Health will connect directly with any individuals who may have been exposed with further instructions via phone call or letter. If someone is contacted by Fraser Health, they’re asked to follow the health authority’s advice carefully.

Sheppard said the protocol in such circumstances includes:

  • Fraser Health Authority will initiate contact tracing
  • FHA will determine how the individual was infected and who they were in close contact with
  • The heath authority will determine if close contacts will be asked to self-isolate for 14 days
  • Only public health can determine who is a close contact.

With files from Delta-Optimist

gwood@glaciermedia.ca
 

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