Students make their way to the first day of school at Sherwood Park Elementary in North Vancouver, Monday, Sept. 22, 2014. Students returned to classes for the first time since June following the province wide teachers strike. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

‘It is a pandemic’: B.C. health minister defends school plan, but says cases are inevitable

Multiple cases have popped up in schools since classes started on Sept. 10

The province’s health minister acknowledged Tuesday (Sept. 15) that there will “inevitably” be COVID-19 cases in B.C.’s schools, even as he defended the sharing of that information.

“Everyone wants children back to school and everyone wants to do that as safely as possible,” Health Minister Adrian Dix said.

He said that cases – at least three of which have already emerged – would continue to pop up in the province’s schools “because there are cases in society.”

“There are tens of thousands of people who work in school, and there are hundreds of thousands of people who go to school,” Dix said.

“Inevitably there will be people who work in school or go to school who have COVID-19. It is a pandemic.”

B.C. has mandated masks for middle school and high school students, as well as teachers and other staff, in high traffic areas. Students will be divided into learning groups of 60 to 120 students, and are supposed to physically distance from those not in their cohorts.

Dix defended how B.C. tells the public about cases at schools. Unlike Ontario, which makes cases available through a list on the government’s website, only an outbreak would lead to a public notification. Otherwise, school communities and parents are notified privately, although these letters often leak to the press.

“We provide information every day in British Columbia,” Dix said.

“There’s a broader debate about releasing information that would be identifying for individuals. We believe we have to invite people to engage with us… so anything identifying has to be not be there.”

READ MORE: B.C. reports 317 new COVID-19 cases, 6 deaths over the weekend


@katslepian

katya.slepian@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Port Hardy Mounties help First Nation chief build smokehouse

‘We have great maya’xala for all the community members, in each of the communities…’

Emaciated grizzly found dead on central B.C. coast as low salmon count sparks concern

Grizzly was found on Gwa’sala-‘Nakwaxda’xw territory in Smith Inlet, 60K north of Port Hardy

Access to remote Side Bay beach up in the bureaucratic air

Roads to the pristine north west coast Vancouver Island beach at risk of being deactivated

Mount Cain planning a modified winter season for north Island ski and snowboarders

Skiing is a COVID-friendly activity, but shared public spaces require adjustment

Remote B.C. tourism lodge staffed for coastal clean up instead of wilderness tours

The Great Bear Rainforest is home to exotic wildlife — and international trash

3 new deaths due to COVID-19 in B.C., 139 new cases

B.C. confirms 40 ‘historic cases,’ as well

Ferry riders say lower fares are what’s most needed to improve service

Provincial government announces findings of public engagement process

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg dies at 87

The court’s second female justice, died Friday at her home in Washington

Comox Valley protesters send message over old-growth logging

Event in downtown Courtenay was part of wider event on Friday

Application deadline for fish harvester benefits program extended

Those financially impacted by the pandemic have until Oct. 5 to apply

VIDEO: B.C. to launch mouth-rinse COVID-19 test for kids

Test involves swishing and gargling saline in mouth and no deep-nasal swab

Young Canadians have curtailed vaping during pandemic, survey finds

The survey funded by Heart & Stroke also found the decrease in vaping frequency is most notable in British Columbia and Ontario

B.C. teachers file Labour Relations Board application over COVID-19 classroom concerns

The application comes as B.C.’s second week of the new school year comes to a close

CHARTS: Beyond Metro Vancouver, COVID-19 cases in B.C. haven’t increased much recently

COVID-19 case counts outside of Metro Vancouver have been level since July

Most Read