Staff and students at Vernon’s Fulton Secondary School have been alerted they may have been exposed to an individual with the COVID-19 virus on Thursday, March 12. (Kerry Hutter photo)

Delayed alert of Vernon high school COVID-19 exposure explained: Interior Health

Fulton students, staff told to self-isolate following potential exposure to confirmed coronavirus case

Vernonites are asking why it took so long for Interior Health to notify staff, parents and students of Clarence Fulton Secondary School after an individual tested positive for COVID-19.

Interior Health (IH) confirmed the notice was sent out to those who may have been exposed to the individual around March 12, while classes were still in session.

But the health authority said there are several reasons as to why these types of notices may be delayed.

IH said people may have symptoms for several days before seeking professional care as often symptoms are mild.

Once tested, IH said results can take up to a few days depending on the circumstances and once results come back, the Communicable Disease Unit starts an investigation.

If the CDU discovers a larger group of individuals that may have been exposed, that is when communication and notification processes begin.

“We still see value in alerting people as anyone currently with symptoms can then take actions to reduce their risk of exposing others,” IH said.

Students and staff have been ordered to self-isolate for 14 days “from the date of this exposure,” the statement issued to parents said. That puts those exposed in quarantine until March 26.

IH said individuals experiencing symptoms, including a runny nose, sore throat, fever or cough, to further self-isolate for an additional 10 days from the onset of symptoms.

“If symptoms persist beyond 10 days, please stay home until you are feeling well,” the statement reads.

The high school was in the midst of celebrating its annual Spirit Week the week of March 12.

The provincial government announced all K-12 classes were to be suspended until further notice on March 17.

READ MORE: Smoking pot indoors ends Vernon high school dance

“Thank you to everyone for their support of our medical health officers and communicable disease teams who are working so diligently to prevent the spread of the virus,” IH said in an email.

Individuals experiencing COVID-19 symptoms are urged to check themselves online at covid19.thrive.health or call Health Link at 811.

Those needing medical care are urged to call their primary care provider and alert health care professionals of symptoms before visiting.

For more information you can call 1-888-COVID-19 or text 604-030-0300 for non-medical COVID-19 questions and 811 for medical COVID-19 questions.

For the most up-to-date health information on the COVID-19 outbreak please visit: bccdc.ca/ or news.interiorhealth.ca/covid-19/.

READ MORE: Vernon school staff, students may have been exposed to COVID-19

READ MORE: Vernon district prepares for school closures

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