School District 27 superintendent Chris van der Mark. (Angie Mindus photo)

School District 27 superintendent Chris van der Mark. (Angie Mindus photo)

LETTER: We are seeing an increase in positive exposures in our schools

School District 27 superintendent Chris van der Mark pens a letter to families

Editor’s note: In light of the increase in COVID-19 positive cases in our schools recently, we chose to publish a letter sent to parents, students and staff of SD27 by Superintendent Chris van der Mark, updating them on the situation Jan. 22.

Dear Parents, Families, Students, and Staff:

The New Year is up and running, and though we have reason for optimism, the early days of 2021 have brought a renewed focus to the pandemic and how important all of our efforts are. Our communities have seen a significant surge in COVID-19 cases, and it is not surprising to see the increase in positive exposures in our schools. We know, through the work of the B.C. Centre for Disease Control (CDC) and our provincial officer health (PHO) that the virus is more likely to be spread at home and as it has surged across the community, we have seen more coming into schools. As of writing this, 40 per cent of our sites have now experienced at least one exposure since the start of the new year. The good news is that 60 per cent have received zero notices. What’s more, only two sites have had multiple exposure notices. This information is absolutely critical as it means:

• Contact tracing works

• Risk of transmission in school remains low

• Schools remain safe, controlled locations

We understand there is some uncertainty with the timeline of positive cases and notices, but people have to understand that a person may test positive and the results show they were infectious much earlier than their test. Notices are then issued to the schools based on when the individual may have been in contact at the school facility. Interior Health has done a tremendous job communicating with the District and any required follow-up. They are very thorough, and in our experience, they only err on the side of caution.

Schools have been working hard to be flexible in accommodating students who need to isolate or parents and students who are worried. We firmly believe schools are safe and hope to see your child there, but we understand the concern. This is challenging for everyone. There are limits to what we are able to deliver, but we are working to connect and support as best we can.

Without exception, the first exposure notice at a school site is the most challenging and stressful for students, staff and parents. However, once people experience the process it is fairly predictable.

Read More:Two classes told to self-isolate due to COVID-19 exposure at Nesika Elementary School

Chris van der Mark

Superintendent of Schools

School District 27

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