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COVID-19 exposure reported at Surrey high school on first day of teachers’ return; no students affected

A staff member at Panorama Ridge Secondary School in Surrey has tested positive for COVID-19, according to Fraser Health. There were no students at the school on the day of the possible exposure. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-NIAID-RML via AP.
A staff member at Panorama Ridge Secondary School in Surrey has tested positive for COVID-19, according to Fraser Health. There were no students at the school on the day of the possible exposure. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-NIAID-RML via AP. The Associated Press

Fraser Health has reported a COVID-19 exposure at Panorama Ridge Secondary School in Surrey, that occurred the first day that teachers and staff returned to school from the summer holidays.

The health authority said a staff member who was at the school on Tuesday, Sept. 8 has tested positive for the virus and is self-isolating at home.

No students were on-site that day.

Fraser Health was made aware of the exposure on Sept. 11.

The health authority is working now on contact tracing and case management, and some people identified as close contacts have been told to self-isolate as well.

Read more: The future of high school? B.C. district to move to ‘quadrant’ schedule under COVID-19

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“At this time, we want to reassure parents and students at Panorama Ridge Secondary School who may have concerns about COVID-19 that this exposure is limited to this specific date only,” Fraser Health Medical Officer Dr. Aamir Bharmal said in an emailed statement to Global News.

“No ongoing COVID-19 risk to staff and students at the school from this exposure has been identified. We will continue to work with the school and school district to provide students and parents with timely information.”

Public health officials in B.C. have repeatedly said they do expect cases to pop up in schools, but believe they can be effectively managed.

Read more: B.C.’s top doctor doesn’t ‘foresee a situation’ where the school system shuts down again

B.C.’s provincial health officer, Dr. Bonnie Henry, said at a news conference on Thursday that not every case confirmed at a school would be classified as an outbreak or exposure — but there would be a notification in the event of a risk of exposure to the public.

She raised the possibility that members of a learning group that’s had an exposure may be asked to self-isolate.

“If there is a possible exposure, it may be that some of the learning group may have to be quarantined for a period of time, depending on what type of exposure happened, how many people had close contact,” she said Thursday.

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Henry has also said she doesn’t foresee the school system having to entirely shut down in the way it did in March.

But, she said that if there’s significant transmission between adults at a specific school, that facility could temporarily shutdown — similar to protocols put in place for other illnesses.

The Surrey Teachers Association wouldn’t provide a comment to Global News on Friday.

Global News has reached out to the Surrey School District, the BC Teachers’ Federation and CUPE 728, the union representing school support staff in the Surrey School District for more information.