It’s something many parents have been calling for since the start of this unprecedented school year: Online information about which schools have cases of COVID-19.
“That’s very important because it should be up to the parents to decide whether they want to allow their kid to school, or if they want to keep them home,” Kelowna mom Rachelle Paquin told Global News.
On Wednesday afternoon, in an email to Global News, a Ministry of Health spokesperson confirmed that information about COVID cases and exposure will be posted online.
Regional health authorities will be posting school exposure information online, states the email.
It goes on to say the B.C. Centre for Disease Control will be the central home for the online resource, linking to each regional health authority’s page.
The online resource will provide parents, teachers and community members with information on COVID-19 cases in K-12 schools in their region.
The email states that health authorities will provide the name of the school, the community and the date and type of notification (outbreak, cluster or exposure).
“We want to make sure we protect people’s privacy, but we do want to make sure people are aware of the situation,” said Dr. Albert de Villiers, chief medical officer for Interior Health.
“We won’t get into the fine details.”
There are protocols in place when children come down with any kind of cold or flu-like symptoms.
First and foremost, the child must stay home.
Parents can choose to keep the child at home until all symptoms are gone or get a COVID test. But even if the result is negative, de Villiers said the child should not immediately return to class.
“We still want a child not to come to school until the symptoms are better because you can still be carrying something else,” he told Global News.
“I mean we’re testing for COVID-19, but you can carry influenza or another disease, which we don’t want to spread either in school.”
If a COVID case is confirmed in a classroom, public health officials will conduct an immediate investigation to determine that child’s close contacts, something that is based on the length of time of exposure and nature of interactions.
“We are looking at the case specifically,” de Villiers said. “We call them, we call the school, if it’s a kindergarten, the child might not know necessarily themselves.
“We will talk to the teachers, we’ll talk to the parents and identify those kids that have been closely in contact with that child that tested positive and they’ll be isolated.”
The Fraser Health Authority is the first in the province to start posting which schools have been affected.
IHA hopes to start posting the information as early as Thursday.