Henderson Elementary School has been identified by School District 47 as the site of a COVID-19 exposure.
At the November 10 school board meeting, chairperson Aaron Reid said that the previous evening, the school district received information that a member of the local school community attached to Henderson Elementary School has tested positive for COVID-19.
“Obviously, this isn’t welcome news, however, we have known all along that this may happen,” said Reid. “Safety protocols are in place and are being followed. On behalf of the board, I’d like to thank our superintendent for communicating this information quickly to the community, while maintaining the privacy of the individual affected. We all wish him or her a full and speedy recovery.”
Reid said the school district is now looking to public health to contact trace and provide direction.
“If further action from the district is recommended, it will be implemented immediately,” said Reid. “The health and safety of our students, staff and community is of utmost importance.
“This event serves as a reminder to us that despite our weariness, we cannot afford to be complacent. We must continue to be diligent in following the guidelines from the public health office in order to keep ourselves, and each other, safe from this virus.”
In a November 9 letter to parents, students and staff, superintendent of schools Jay Yule stated that unfortunately, they have been made aware a person at Henderson Elementary School has tested positive for COVID-19.
“Please be assured that we are working with our local health authority to determine if there is any risk to other members of our school community, or if any additional steps are required,” stated Yule. “We will follow the health authority’s guidance.
“The local health authority will connect directly with any individuals who may have been exposed with further instructions. If you are contacted by the health authority, please follow their advice carefully.”
Yule stated that if people have symptoms, to stay home and follow guidance from BC Centre for Disease Control regarding what one does if sick.
“We ask for your patience and we will communicate out additional information as it becomes available,” stated Yule. “The safety and well-being of our students, families and staff remains our highest priority.
“Please be reassured that our school will continue to implement the strict protocols and procedures we have in place so that children can continue to attend school as safely as possible.”
Reid said at the school board meeting that Henderson Elementary School is still open and fully functioning.
If the COVID-19 transmission becomes more widespread the school district has a plan in place, said Yule.
“We will follow the guidance of the public health officer to determine if schools should be open or cohorts would stay home,” said Yule. “We have transition plans where students could move onto virtual learning for the time that they are out of school. Obviously, if it’s a short amount of time, then we would provide work that students could have at home. If it’s a longer period of time we do have a plan to move to virtual delivery.”
In terms of ongoing communications, Yule said the school district has had ongoing conversations with the public health office, which has started contact tracing.
“They will get back to us if there is anything new in terms of where we have to go,” said Yule. “Some parents have chosen to keep their children at home, which is understandable, to wait over the next few days. People are anxious to hear more information and we’ll pass that along when we get it from public health.”
Powell River and District Teachers’ Association president Izi Loveluck said she wanted to thank Yule for his rapid response. She said it is very difficult when information isn’t out there, so the district’s initiative was very much appreciated.
Yule stated in his letter that for further information, to visit the Vancouver Coastal Health website at vch.ca. As of 5:30 pm on November 10, the VCH website stated there were no other reported exposures at this time in School District 47.