COVID exposure likely scenario at South Okanagan schools, says Interior Health

Nearly 90 per cent of students are back in class, no known cases yet

Almost 90 per cent of SD67 students are back at school, confirmed School District 67 superintendent Todd Manuel.

Of those students, 268 are currently in a flexible transition back to school plan.

“We heard very clearly that parents wanted a transition back plan,” said Manuel at the Sept. 27 school board meeting. The flexible re-entry plan has students coming to school in October and December dates.

There are 73 online K-9 students.

“That’s double what we would see in a regular school year,” he said.

“Schools are looking different and children have done an exceptional job with it,” he said.

The district has added 21 high touch cleaners and purchased plenty of PPE for both students and staff, he said.

The district has added counselling hours at each school.

“We are mindful of students’ well being but we have to think of our staff’s well being too (during the pandemic).”

READ MORE: Teachers, parents stressed about changing health guidelines for school

Interior Health’s Dr. Sue Pollock, school health officer for South Okanagan, addressed the school restart at the board of education meeting on Sept. 27.

“We are very happy to see kids back in school. It’s very good for their social and emotional development and good for physical and mental health,” said Pollack.

“Schools will continue to be a safe place for teachers, students and staff even during this pandemic,” she said.

Even though there currently aren’t any known cases or exposures in SD67 schools, it will happen at some point, said Pollock.

“We expect to have COVID cases in schools and in fact we’ve had several COVID exposures in schools in the Interior Health region.”

READ MORE: More COVID exposures at Vernon schools

“We have lots of plans in place for exposure, clusters and how they impact schools. Schools are controlled settings. Children are at lower risk of getting and spreading COVID.

“If there is an exposure at a school, the superintendent is notified first and it will be publicly posted on the Interior Health pages.”

With enrolment declines for the past two years, full time student numbers won’t released until the October school board meeting, said Manuel.

Projected enrolment for September 2020 is 5,523. The district is expecting to lose over 200 students from last year.

To report a typo, email: editor@pentictonwesternnews.com.


 

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