We realize this is a difficult time for parents and for staff as we receive information of the potential exposures in various grades. As this is the first event that has impacted the school community, I do wish to explain what I can about our risk factors.
First, we are bound by CONFIDENTIALITY by Public Health Procedures. As we must notify all those in an exposure event to monitor for symptoms, that does not mean they were all in direct contact with the infected individuals. Each infected individual is called by Public Health and contact traced. Anyone within the direct contact group is notified and isolated. All others who are not in direct contact or are deemed a low risk (as they wear masks or were not directly interacting during the infectious period) are only to monitor for symptoms and to go for testing if a symptom arises. Please refrain from spreading rumors or speculating on what has happened as only the contact tracers really know, and even then, it is difficult to know for sure how this Virus spreads throughout all cases. There maybe asymmetric or pre-symptomatic exposures that we are unaware of and that is why we follow the recommendations of public health to maintain and stop the spread of COVID-19. Cases are continuing around BC, Canada and the rest of the world and we MUST all do our part to stay safe.
Our primary defense of exposure has been to complete daily screening for all students and staff. Our secondary defense is even if someone is asymptomatic or pre-symptomatic, the school follows all safety protocols. Hand washing, masking, cleaning common areas 2x daily, and staying in cohorts. Our school has a deep clean and sanitation every night and bathrooms and common areas are wiped down constantly.
The biggest risk factor of spread is sick children coming to school. So far, most spreading, whether asymptomatic or pre-symptomatic, is droplet based and within a direct contact. Our staff is daily screened, wearing masks and visors, specialists teach behind glass and keep distant from each other and are constantly wiping and disinfecting. It is unfortunate that these exposures have affected us, as some staff are also required to isolate. These risks are monitored and decided by Vancouver Coastal Health. Our school has and will continue to do all it can to minimize risks from staff to children, and keep all classroom and children touch areas clean. Students also wash hands regularly and are asked to keep apart and wear masks in upper grades. However, the spread of COVID in schools is directly related to the exposures in the surrounding community. Many of our families are very concerned about infection and are extremely careful and other have less risk concerns. The incidence of COVID infections in our neighbourhood areas have been rising especially by gathering events. This impacts families and because some may be quarantined and others without symptoms may not, we may also have been impacted by community spread. Our staff has followed all protocols and I’m sure there are those families who have done so as well. All we can do at this point is to continue to be careful, monitor for symptoms, follow all recommendations of washing our hands, masking, keeping our distances, stop social gatherings, and continue to monitor our children for illness. Please seek testing or if you feel your child may be at risk or if they show any signs of illness. VCH will advise you in your particular situation. If you are unsure and you have received the VCH exposure letter, follow their guidelines and take all necessary precautions. Call the pod number or 811 for advice.
Unfortunately, none of us are immune to COVID-19. We all have daily risk factors in and outside of our home, work, schools, stores, recreation, and neighbourhoods. We all have family or co- worker’s or friends that may test positive. No matter how careful, the longer COVID is active and before we are vaccinated, any of us or our families may be affected. Our school has been very fortunate that this is our first exposure. We have been extremely careful and yet we are now dealing with it. Our goal has not changed. We work extremely hard at minimizing COVID risks. We ask parents to do the same, that is to follow all Public Health Guidelines and take all illness seriously. Stay home if you feel there is a risk. The school would not have opened today if it were not safe. The exposures are a result of some illness entering the school and affecting some individuals between February 8-10. Those individuals are all home and isolating. The only risk going forward is to have further exposures this week or moving forward, as in any public setting. We are taking all safety precautions as we have done for the last 11 months. We have learned from this exposure event, and we have also instituted new recommendations for staff and especially those students at risk. However, parents always have the right to keep children home if they feel the need to for personal reasons, or to minimize their own family risks. Please send a note to the school and the teacher will send home missed assignments or give time for those children to catch up upon their return. The exposures happened only in those grades mentioned either due to siblings or staff affected and it is NOT throughout all grades of the school. There was no school wide spreading event, all cohorts are kept separate and all common staff take extra precautions. If your child or family or staff was in direct contact, they have been notified by VCH and parents would have been told to get tested or follow the recommendations of the exposure notification.
Again, we are dealing with these exposure events as quickly as possible, we are informing you parents so you can also make the best decisions for the safety of your own families and we continue to follow the direction of VCH. Please feel free to email the school if you have any other questions.
Let us pray these exposure events end quickly, and safely and that all our families will stay healthy until we finish the year.
May God Bless us all and keep us safe!