B.C.’s medical health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry says the public will be informed if there are any COVID-19 outbreaks in schools.
Henry said Thursday cases in which the virus is transmitted in school settings will be considered an outbreak and publicly reported.
Henry made the comments as public school children prepare to head back to the classroom full time next week.
Henry said with schools back in session “we know we’ll have cases that will pop up” among either students or school staff who are exposed to the virus either at home or through the community.
If other children in their learning group are potentially exposed to the virus, those students may have to quarantine, said Henry.
In the case of one West Vancouver private school, that has already happened.
A group of Grade 9 students and teachers at Mulgrave School – where students returned to class Aug. 20 – are in self-isolation this week after being exposed to COVID-19 during a recent outdoor trip.
Generally COVID-19 cases won’t be considered an outbreak, however, unless the virus is confirmed as being transmitted between students or staff in the school setting, said Henry.
She added in all confirmed cases of COVID-19, public health officials will determine who may have been exposed to the virus and who needs to self-isolate and communicate that to affected families.
It’s possible that in rare cases schools might have to close temporarily – especially if a number of teachers or staff either contracted the virus or were required to self-isolate and there weren’t enough staff to effectively run the school, said Henry.
Henry said, however, that as long as community transmission of the virus remains under control she does not foresee a situation where a full-scale shutdown of schools will have to occur.