Risk of COVID-19 low in schools, Interior Health states

Medical Health Officer reassures parents as some children and staff head back to class June 1

A staged approach is underway to get kids back to class for the last three weeks of the school year, staring Monday, June 1.

K-5 students will be able to attend two days a week while grades 6-12 will be scheduled one day a week.

Children of essential service workers can attend for five days a week, but buses will not be running.

Classes will be in session from 9-2 p.m.

The return to the classroom is optional for parents who are not comfortable sending their kids back so soon. But Interior Health reminds guardians that in B.C., less than one per cent of children and youth tested have been COVID-19 positive.

“Compared to adults, children are less likely to become infected with COVID-19, less likely to develop severe illness as a result of infection and less likely to transmit the infection to others,” medical health officer Silvina Mema said in a letter to parents.

“Additionally, COVID-19 activity in the Interior Health region has decreased significantly and there is currently very little evidence of community transmission. As a result, Interior Health believes that the risk of COVID-19 in the school environment is low and that students and staff can safely return to in-class learning as per B.C.’s plan.”

Several measures are being taken within the schools, including closure of water fountains, increased cleaning and disinfecting and children will go outside more often and playgrounds will be open.

Meanwhile, everyone is asked to stay home when they are sick and if they have symptoms of COVID-19 they should be tested.

Symptoms are similar to other respiratory illnesses and can include: fever, chills, cough, shortness of breath, sore throat, stuffy or runny nose, loss of sense of smell, headache, muscle aches, fatigue or loss of appetite.

Those who test negative can attend school once their symptoms resolve. Those who test positive will be advised by public health to stay home for at least 10 days.

Frequent hand washing, respiratory etiquette (coughing into elbow, not touching face) and physical distancing are required but students do not have to wear non-medical masks, unless they choose to.

“Thank you for all your efforts towards a safe return to learning in our schools,” said Mema. “The gradual and part-time return will help us prepare for a return to full-time classes in September, provided it is safe to return.”

READ MORE: Vernon back-to-school survey due Friday

READ MORE: Ruling change scuttles Okanagan-Shuswap grad plans


@VernonNews
jennifer@vernonmorningstar.com

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