More COVID-19 exposures reported at Vancouver Island schools

A growing number of Island schools are reporting exposure events following spring break.

Island Health’s school exposure list now includes Esquimalt High, with possible exposures on April 7-9 and Nanaimo’s Fairview Elementary, with a possible exposure on April 9.

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Possible exposures April 7 have been reported at Frank Hobbs Elementary and Glanford Middle School in Saanich and Edward Milne Community School in Sooke.

Other recent exposures in Greater Victoria include Drinkwater Elementary, Colquitz Middle, Mount Douglas Secondary and Victoria High.

COVID-19 exposures have also been reported in the past two weeks at Arbutus Middle in Saanich, Ballenas Secondary in Parksville, Belmont Secondary in Langford, Oaklands Elementary in Victoria, Nanaimo District Secondary, Kwalikum Secondary in Qualicum, and Oak Bay High.

Dunsmuir and Cedar Hill middle schools were reported to have a cluster of cases — two or more confirmed cases, plus evidence of transmission — in late March.

Island Health conducts contact tracing in schools, and students can continue to attend classes unless their families are directly notified.

However, some parents have kept their children home from school amid the surge in cases, and the Greater Victoria Teachers’ Association is calling for ­public release of transmission rates, numbers of classes and students that are asked to isolate, and the overall number of staff and students diagnosed with the virus.

The province does not share data about how many school exposures are related to students and how many are related to teachers.

The Ministry of Health says the likelihood of transmission in a structured setting like a school is much lower than in the community.

School is the best place for students’ social and emotional well-being, the Health Ministry said in a statement last week, adding that additional steps are taken where the risk of community transmission is higher, such as the recent vaccination of education staff in the Surrey school district.

ceharnett@timescolonist.com

— With a file from Jeff Bell

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