First case of COVID-19 confirmed in Victoria-area school

A private school in Saanich has had a confirmed COVID-19 exposure, the first in a capital region school.

The exposure was at Lakeview Christian School, where a single person with a laboratory-confirmed infection attended the school during their infectious period. Lakeview is on Cordova Bay Road, near Elk Lake.

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School officials could not be reached for comment.

Dr. Sandra Allison, the Central Island’s medical health officer, said this week that there have not been any COVID-19 transmissions within Island schools. That includes four recent instances of COVID-19 linked to Nanaimo schools, along with one at Ladysmith secondary.

Earlier school cases were seen in Port Alberni and Campbell River.

Parent Angela Carmichael, who has a son at George Jay Elementary School and one at Central Middle School, said the arrival of COVID-19 at a local school brings concern.

“It’s terrifying but we were told this was going to happen. Adrian Dix and Dr. Bonnie Henry have been telling us that there was going to be a second wave,” she said, referring to the health minister and provincial health officer.

“I think people maybe became lax.”

Carmichael said many parents are wondering if schools will ultimately be able to continue operating.

“If they shut the schools down again, then we’ll wait it out, just like we’ve done before.”

Education Minister Rob Fleming said the aim is to avoid school closures.

“While the proportion of cases in school-aged children remains low and transmission in schools is very rare, members of school communities must diligently follow public health advice to keep schools a safe environment,” he said in a statement. “What we are seeing in schools, which reflects what we are seeing in the community, are some exposures but very little transmission — fewer than a dozen across BC.

“Our focus needs to be on reducing transmission in the community so we can protect our schools and keep them safe and open.”

The appearance of COVID-19 at a Victoria-area school is a reminder that it’s important to stay vigilant, said Saanich School District superintendent Dave Eberwein.

“We still need to be following the provincial health officer’s recommendations around the protocols,” he said. “The other thing to take away from this is that schools remain safe places to be, that they’re controlled environments and we’re able to track things quite quickly in schools versus uncontrolled environments like restaurants or community centres or those types of places.”

He said it appears the measures in place at schools are working.

“I can’t think of another space than perhaps hospitals that is cleaned as frequently or as diligently as a school,” Eberwein said. “We’re in the best situation possible right now, which should be reassuring to people.”

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