Teachers at West Van's Sentinel Secondary warned of possible COVID-19 exposure

A possible COVID-19 exposure at West Vancouver’s Sentinel Secondary has left some teachers confused about whether they’re at risk.

Principal Michael Finch sent an email notice to staff on the weekend, stating, “We have been made aware that a member of our school community has tested positive for COVID-19.”

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“We are working with Vancouver Coastal Health to determine if there is any exposure to other members of our school community or if any additional steps are required,” Finch wrote. “We will strictly follow the health authority’s guidance.”

Since then, however, there have been few details provided by either the West Vancouver school district or Vancouver Coastal Health.

That’s left some teachers stressed and confused, said Renee Willock, president of the West Vancouver Teachers Association.

Willock said it’s even more confusing that the school has not been listed on Vancouver Coastal Health’s web page of school exposures, which had listed no school exposures as of Monday morning.

“I know this is inaccurate,” said Willock.

A similar notice warning of a potential COVID-19 exposure reportedly also went out to parents at a North Shore private school, but that school was also not listed on the school exposure list, nor was any confirmation provided by Vancouver Coastal Health or the school administration.

A group of Grade 9 students and their teachers at a third North Shore school – Mulgrave private school in West Vancouver – spent 14 days in isolation earlier this month as a precaution after a student in the group, who had taken part in outdoor school activities, tested positive for COVID-19.

That school was also not listed on the VCH site for school exposures.

In contrast, the Fraser Health Authority listed 14 schools in the Surrey School District with COVID-19 exposures on Monday.

According to information posted on the website, an “exposure” is defined as when a single person with a lab-confirmed case of COVID-19 attended school during their infectious period.

According to Vancouver Coastal Health, the 120,000 staff and students in the VCH region make up about 10 per cent of the population in the region, so cases of COVID-19 are to be expected.

Health authorities have said they will directly notify anyone believed to have been exposed to COVID-19. When that isn’t possible in a timely manner, letters and public notices will be issued.


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