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B.C. parents watching closely as number of COVID-19-positive kids climbs

Click to play video 'Coronavirus cases climbing in B.C. kids since restart of school' Coronavirus cases climbing in B.C. kids since restart of school
Coronavirus cases climbing in B.C. kids since restart of school – Oct 1, 2020

New data shows a dramatic increase in the number of B.C. children with COVID-19 since schools reopened last month.

According to the B.C. Centre for Disease Control, there were 178 cases among kids under 10 years old on Sept. 10. By Sept. 30, that number had climbed to 298 — a 67-per cent increase.

Among youth aged 10 to 19 years old there were 354 cases on Sept. 10. By Sept. 30, that number had climbed to 522, a 47 per cent increase.

At her Thursday briefing, provincial heath officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said the increase in cases should be viewed in the context of a large increase in testing among children.

Read more: Coronavirus: List of B.C. school exposures

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The number of kids with COVID-19 remains far lower than other age groups, she added.

While there have been several dozen exposures reported in B.C. schools, Henry said there had yet to be any outbreaks.

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Concerned West Vancouver parents start Facebook group to list COVID-19 school exposures – Sep 28, 2020

“It is a possibility. We have seen it in other places, and we will be watching for that,” she said.

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“But we do know our system is working, because we are finding cases, we are finding smaller transmission events, and we are isolating people and preventing outbreaks from happening.”

Parents remain split in their reviews of the province’s back to school plan.

Read more: B.C.’s daily health checklist for children going to school shortens to just 7 symptoms

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Some, like Tanya Danneffel, say they’ve opted for homeschooling rather than risk exposure in the classroom.

“I just didn’t like the idea of being in a classroom with 20 other kids. Kids carry a lot of germs. I know from my kids there’s often children in the class with runny noses or that are coughing,” she said.

“It’s not something I want to worry about or have my kids worry about.”

Others like Robyn Parker told Global News they were satisfied the safety plan was effective.

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Vancouver Coastal Health defends position on disclosing COVID-19 cases in schools – Sep 24, 2020

“They’re doing enough to keep them safe … but now the fun of school is gone,” she said.

“But (my son) needs to be in school, he needs that in-class instruction.”

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The BC Teachers’ Federation remains critical of the plan, and has filed a complaint with the labour relations board over what it says are unsafe conditions.

The union wants masks to be mandatory in classrooms, smaller class sizes and improved ventilation in schools.

Read more: Here’s how each province is preparing for back-to-school amid coronavirus

“The measures in place are not sufficient,” BCTF president Teri Mooring told Global News.

“We’ve seen a real breakdown to the cohort model. It’s not functioning as it was intended to.

In the meantime, parents like Parker say they’ll be watching the numbers closely.

“Unfortunately I think it’s just a sign of things to come,” she said.

“It’s going to happen. The kids are going to get out, they need that socialization.”

— With files from John Hua

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