Two Island schools added to COVID cluster list

Ten Vancouver Island schools, including three in Greater Victoria, are now on Island Health’s list of outbreaks or clusters of COVID-19 in schools.

École Poirier Elementary in Sooke and Brooklyn Elementary in Comox were added to the list over the weekend as a result of clusters of COVID cases detected in each school.

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Island Health says a cluster is when there are two or more confirmed cases of COVID-19 in a school within a 14-day period and there is evidence of transmission within the school.

In the case of École Poirier, the first potential exposure was on Sept. 16 through to Sept. 22, while in Comox it was Sept. 15 through Sept. 21.

Public health officials are working with the school and district to ensure close contacts are notified directly and provided guidance.

Island Health said no action is required unless parents are contacted by public health or school officials. Children should continue to attend school unless public health officials have directly suggested otherwise through a phone call or letter.

Sir James Douglas Elementary and École Victor-Brodeur were the other Victoria schools already on the list.

This week, the province is expected to unveil a new procedure for reporting COVID exposures in schools.

The province had said it would no longer post notices of individual cases of COVID-19 at schools, limiting notification to clusters and outbreaks. Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry had suggested the reporting of single cases caused too much anxiety, but after a backlash from parents, the province announced it would be reversing course.

All school staff and children in Grade 4 and up are required to wear masks indoors in school. Students in younger grades are encouraged to wear them.

The province says it’s “actively preparing” for COVID vaccines to be approved for children age five through 11.

aduffy@timescolonist.com

- With a file from Cindy E. Harnett

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