Friday October 1, 2021 | VANCOUVER ISLAND, BC
News Analysis by Mary P Brooke, B.Sc., Editor | Island Social Trends
On the evening of the September 30 statutory holiday (observed in BC as Orange Shirt Day), it was announced that Provincial Health Officer Dr Bonnie Henry and Education Minister Jennifer Whiteside would be giving an update on “enhanced health and safety guidelines in BC schools”. That’s set for today Friday October 1 at 10:30 am.
Notes to follow here, after the 10:30 am announcement.
This sudden announcement (usually the COVID announcements are currently weekly on Tuesdays) comes on the heels of increasing numbers of test-positive cases of COVID infection among school-age children.
Vaccination not available for under age 12:
Vaccination against COVID-19 is not yet available to children under the age of 12 in Canada. Dr Henry said earlier this week, and last week, that she expects vaccination products to become available and approved by Health Canada sometime this fall for children age 5 to 11 years of age.
Meanwhile, the mask mandate in BC schools is, so far, just for children and teens in Grades 4 to 12. This has, by default, left younger children open and vulnerable to spread of the COVID virus (which is now almost entirely the highly transmissible Delta variant).
It has also exposed teachers and other adults in the schools to essentially unnecessary risk.
Possibly now a mask mandate for K-3:
Today’s announcement could very well be about changing the mask mandate to include children in Kindergarten to Grade 3. Parents and the BC Teachers Federation have been calling for this. So far, three school districts in the BC lower mainland (Vancouver, Surrey and Burnaby) have instituted their own mask mandates.
Here in south Vancouver Island’s west shore (schools in Langford, Colwood and Sooke), the SD62 school district’s superintendent has “strongly recommended” masks for K-3, but the board did not officially discuss having a mandate.
COVID exposures in schools:
COVID potential exposures in schools are posted by health authorities. The Island Health School Exposures page is updated as required.
As posted by BC Health, “everyone eligible is expected to get two doses of COVID-19 vaccine”. That would include teachers, administrators and support staff, and by extension also parents.
Public health conducts contact tracing for every case of COVID-19 in schools.
Potential COVID exposures in Island schools – currently 18 schools listed (September 30, 2021)
Vaccines effective for at least 4 months, boosters very likely to come (September 29, 2021)
SD62 dealing with COVID in schools as kids 5-11 remain unvaccinated (September 28, 2021)
BCTF Fall 2021: wants better protections & return-to-school caution (September 6, 2021)