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School back in session: Interior Health reassures parents, students and staff in letter

Click to play video: 'School back in session: Interior Health reassures parents, students and staff in letter' School back in session: Interior Health reassures parents, students and staff in letter
School back in session: Interior Health reassures parents, students and staff in letter – May 27, 2020

As June nears, so does the reopening of B.C. schools.

Interior Health has issued a letter to parents, students and faculty to help assure them that the reopening amid the coronavirus pandemic is safe for everybody.

“COVID-19 activity in the Interior Health region has decreased significantly and there is currently very little evidence of community transmission,” Silvina Mema, an Interior Health medical health officer, said in the letter.

“As a result, Interior Health believes that the risk of COVID-19 in the school environment is low and that students and staff can safely return to in-class learning as per B.C.’s plan.”

READ MORE: BC Interior Health region sees first new case of COVID-19 after six days

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Interior Health also mentions the transmission risk for children is significantly lower than for adults.

“Compared to adults, children are less likely to become infected with COVID-19, less likely to develop severe illness as a result of infection and less likely to transmit the infection to others,” said Mema.

“In B.C., less than 1% of children and youth tested have been COVID-19 positive.”

READ MORE: Coronavirus — B.C.’s Interior Health announces resumption of elective surgeries

The health authority outlined four important measures that are being taken to decrease the risk of COVID-19 at schools:

Stay home when sick

Children and staff with any symptoms consistent with COVID-19 must stay home and should be tested for the coronavirus, according to IH. 

Those who test negative can return to school. Those who test positive will be advised to stay home and self-isolate for a minimum of 10 days.

Anyone who may have been in contact with a COVID-19-positive person then must follow directions from IH and self-isolate.

Wash your hands frequently and practise respiratory etiquette

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IH says hand hygiene using soap and water or alcohol-based hand sanitizer will be used regularly. Masks will not be mandatory but will be permitted.

READ MORE: Interior Health rescinds closure order for gyms, fitness centres; will be able to reopen May 19

Support physical distancing when possible

The provincial health officer’s recommendation to stay two metres apart should be followed as much as possible, but it may not be feasible and is not expected at all times in the school setting, according to the health authority.

Physical distancing will be supported through a combination of classroom design, scheduling, monitoring and supervision. 

Outdoor play and learning is recommended by IH as COVID-19 transmission in outdoor settings is less likely.

Perform routine cleaning with enhanced cleaning of high-touch surfaces

Schools will continue to use their cleaning products and focus on high-traffic areas.

“The gradual and part-time return will help us prepare for a return to full-time classes in September, provided it is safe to return,” said Mema.

You can read the full letter here.

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