There was some key information released during the last week including thoughts on September and the new school year – Please read our update to ensure you are up-to-date.
On Thursday March 11, the PHO made another briefing which included a modelling presentation update.
Key messages regarding the Variants of Concern (VoC) and K-12 exposure notices changes:
- “We have found that most of the exposure events in schools reflect what is happening in the community”. Meaning that if there are VoC exposures in the community, then it’s possible for there to be exposures in schools.
- “Most school exposures are NOT exposures with variants.”
- “At first we needed to understand the variants and did quite a lot of testing”
- “We are not seeing the rapidly exploding outbreaks as other provinces are”
- “VoC are not causing a difference from the other strains of C19 that we are seeing”
- “Its become clear that we don’t need to do things differently for the VoC”
- “VoC doesn’t affect the activities taken with the school community when exposure happens”
A reminder from points in our March 4 update: C19 is present in society and will continue to exist even after herd immunity is achieved.
- “There has been an increase in testing and screening for variants”
- “The C19 virus today is not the same as one year ago. RNA viruses change all the time and there are always variants”
- “We continue with current Health and Safety measures and protections as the current virus and not all changes result in variants and variants behave the same as C19 did before”
- “The variants are not more virulent”
Additionally, on March 11, the PHO updated the order for gatherings – It was amended for outdoor gatherings – for up to 10ppl. There were NO other changes made – all other restrictions and guidelines remain in force. Learn more.
Key Messages from the Ministry of Education:
- “School is the best place for students to learn, and for their social and emotional wellbeing – keeping schools open and safe is a priority for our province.”
- “Since day one of the pandemic, our Government has made decisions based on science and we will continue to follow the advice of public health officials as we navigate the pandemic.”
- “As we look to the future, we know September is also very much on all of our minds. Our goal continues to have as many students learning in-class as possible. While much depends on the vaccination roll out, we are optimistic we can start September in Stage 1 – with a full return to in-class instruction.”
- “We’ll be continuing our discussions with our education partners and rightsholders on the Steering Committee; these discussions, along with direction from PHO, will inform how we continue to ensure the health and safety of students and staff in our schools this year and into next year.”
Key Messages from BCCDC:
- “Since March 2020, we have worked together to navigate the challenges of COVID-19. Through this partnership, we heard the need for better communication from public health to the K-12 Education sector. To achieve this, we have created a new BCCDC website specific to K-12: www.bccdc.ca/schools. This website includes information from public health for parents and students, school staff, and administrators and districts.”
- “Additionally a new bulletin has been created to provide regular updates directly to school partners.”
As a partner at that table, BCCPAC is sharing the first bulletin with you below:
BC Centre for Disease Control
Launched a new K-12 Schools and COVID-19 website, featuring resources for families which includes a new resource to explain contact tracing in schools. There is also a listing of public notifications of school exposures, and new information on COVID-19 variants.
BCCDC – C19 Safety & BC Schools
It is normal for viruses to change over time, leading to new versions or variants. New variants have been identified since the beginning of the pandemic. COVID-19 variants have been detected across BC, including in some people who attend school. So far, these cases are only a small proportion of all COVID-19 cases in the province. The new variants spread the same way as the original virus, but some COVID-19 variants spread more easily. Because of this, it is even more important to continue to follow the health and safety measures in place in schools.
More information on COVID-19 variants is available here.
BCCDC – Wellness Tips
With so much happening and so much uncertainty in daily life, it’s normal to feel worried and overwhelmed. It’s important to look after mental health and well-being during COVID-19. Links to mental well-being resources for children, youth, parents and caregivers are available on the BCCDC Mental Well-being Page.
The Kelty Mental Health Resource Centre offers tips to parents and caregivers on caring for younger children during Covid-19.
Foundry BC offers support for youth 12-24 years old.