Interior Health’s Chief Medical Health Officer is defending the health authority’s handling of COVID-19 exposures at schools.
Dr. Albert de Villiers said school plans to deal with the exposures are good, those impacted are contacted directly, and parents should not be worried.
After COVID-19 exposures at more than a dozen Okanagan schools, there have been concerns raised about the lack of information about the numbers of positive cases at a given school.
Interior Health has said it won’t identify school case numbers in real time, unless there is an outbreak declared, due to privacy concerns.
In an interview Tuesday, Dr. de Villiers defended the current system of notifying parents and students.
“I don’t think parents should be worried about it. If you haven’t been contacted by public health, your child hasn’t been a close contact,” he said.
Dr. de Villiers said at the majority of schools, where outbreaks have not been declared, the number of cases is small and those impacted haven’t contracted the virus at school.
“It might seem through the rumour mill that there are more cases than there are. It is small clusters within the school that don’t come from the school,” he said.
“It’s kids that go to either functions or social events outside of the school and then bring it in, but we haven’t seen any spread within the school.”
The head of the Central Okanagan Teachers’ Association, the local teachers union, has suggested mandatory masks in classrooms and more space for physical distancing in high schools could enhance safety.
However, de Villiers said the current system in place in schools is working well.
There have been COVID-19 exposures at more than at 16 Okanagan schools this fall, 14 of them in Kelowna.
— with files from Klaudia Van Emmerik and Shelby ThomView link »