FISA, or the Federation of Independent Schools, acts on our behalf with the BC Ministry of Education and the Government of B.C. Their office has compiled a summary of the analysis by the Provincial Health Officer on the state of the pandemic in British Columbia.
I am hoping that this statistical data will give you confidence that our protocols are keeping your child safe and at the same time, allowing engagement in their day to day learning at STA.
· During Dr. Bonnie Henry’s December 7th news conference, she shared information on the expected second wave increase in provincial COVID-19 exposures but also reinforced that school transmissions are extremely low and that there are no plans to extend the K-12 Christmas break:
“Those exposures still continue to reflect transmission in our communities, but we are not having large numbers of transmission events in schools,” she said. “Those are very small, very few. We’ve had few outbreaks in schools, but they’ve been limited in number.”
Henry said she had discussions with many stakeholders about whether there was a rationale for closing schools but decided against it.
“Schools really are a safe place, and an important place, for our educators and for our students,” she said. “We’ve made a decision that the downsides of it would be far greater than the safety and the protection of the education and the interaction that’s needed in the schools.”
· Of the 641 COVID reported school exposures, less than 4% were from school transmissions.
· Data from around the globe confirms that transmissions from student to student and student to adult remain extremely low. Therefore, the transmission rate for school staff members is low when compared to other professions.
· Students represent 77% of school exposures while staff represent 21% of total school exposures.
· A recent trend sees adult to adult transmissions within schools increasing, and these have been linked to both in and out of school staff gatherings. While these numbers are still quite low, it is worth reminding staff members of the existing guidelines on mask wearing (in all common areas and outside of your prescribed learning group) and that wearing masks does not replace physical distancing requirements (staff rooms, office space, lunchrooms).
· The BC COVID-19 SPEAK Survey completed by nearly 400,000 British Columbians reveals part of the impact that the suspension of in-class instruction had on families:
o Impaired learning for children (76%)
o Less social connection with friends (78%)
o Worsening mental health (51%)
o Extreme stress (24%)
· Last week’s Deputy Minister’s Bulletin provided a valuable Q&A resource http://www.bced.gov.
o Daily health checks are required for all staff members attending the school site. Previously, many schools were following a passive daily health check (if a staff member showed up for work, it was assumed they had completed their daily health check). The new health order requires that school employers institute active daily health checks, where employees confirm with their employer each day that they have completed their daily health check.
o Faith based services may continue at faith based schools, following the existing K-12 guidelines with regards to gatherings, as they are part of the student’s regular school programming.
COVID-19 Updates (December 15th Update)
· COVID-19 transmission in the K-12 sector remains low. Only 0.5% of BC COVID-19 cases were transmitted at schools.
· 78% of COVID-19 cases in schools have occurred within the boundaries of just 10 school districts.
· Provincially, 15 school districts have no recorded cases and 10 school districts have only 1 reported case.
· Dr. Henry recently spoke to the BC vaccine distribution plan, outlining priority recipients. School staff have been identified in the second priority stage of the vaccine roll out.