Students make their way to the first day of school at Sherwood Park Elementary in North Vancouver, Monday, Sept. 22, 2014. Students returned to classes for the first time since June following the province wide teachers strike. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

Students make their way to the first day of school at Sherwood Park Elementary in North Vancouver, Monday, Sept. 22, 2014. Students returned to classes for the first time since June following the province wide teachers strike. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

‘It is a pandemic’: B.C. health minister defends school plan, but says cases are inevitable

Multiple cases have popped up in schools since classes started on Sept. 10

The province’s health minister acknowledged Tuesday (Sept. 15) that there will “inevitably” be COVID-19 cases in B.C.’s schools, even as he defended the sharing of that information.

“Everyone wants children back to school and everyone wants to do that as safely as possible,” Health Minister Adrian Dix said.

He said that cases – at least three of which have already emerged – would continue to pop up in the province’s schools “because there are cases in society.”

“There are tens of thousands of people who work in school, and there are hundreds of thousands of people who go to school,” Dix said.

“Inevitably there will be people who work in school or go to school who have COVID-19. It is a pandemic.”

B.C. has mandated masks for middle school and high school students, as well as teachers and other staff, in high traffic areas. Students will be divided into learning groups of 60 to 120 students, and are supposed to physically distance from those not in their cohorts.

Dix defended how B.C. tells the public about cases at schools. Unlike Ontario, which makes cases available through a list on the government’s website, only an outbreak would lead to a public notification. Otherwise, school communities and parents are notified privately, although these letters often leak to the press.

“We provide information every day in British Columbia,” Dix said.

“There’s a broader debate about releasing information that would be identifying for individuals. We believe we have to invite people to engage with us… so anything identifying has to be not be there.”

READ MORE: B.C. reports 317 new COVID-19 cases, 6 deaths over the weekend


@katslepian

katya.slepian@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

There are few details but neighbours a Second Avenue house in Chilliwack say a huge police presence descended on the home after shots were heard. (File photo)
Robson search warrant yields fentanyl and weapons

Search warrant was part of an ongoing drug trafficking investigation

Trail Aquatic and Leisure Centre extend holiday swim times.
Trail aquatic centre extends swim times

Residents must call ahead to book a time with the Trail Aquatic and Leisure Centre staff

A laboratory technician holds a dose of a COVID-19 novel coronavirus vaccine candidate that’s ready for trial on monkeys at the National Primate Research Center of Thailand. (Mladen Antonov - AFP)
Interior Health reports 66 new COVID-19 infections

570 cases are active; 18 in hospital

Reiner Jakubowski American Peony Society Registrar Nomenclature has named his latest Creation Castlegar. Photo: submitted
New peony hybrid named for Castlegar

Reiner Jakubowski has named his latest peony creation after Castlegar.

The Trail Smoke Eaters are practicing preparation and patience for whenever the provincial health authority gives them and the BCHL the green light to play hockey. Photo: Jim Bailey.
Trail Smoke Eaters ready and willing to play, when able

Trail Smoke Eaters staff are keeping players engaged and committed as suspension of play continues

(Needpix.com)
Pandemic has ‘exacerbated’ concerns for B.C. children and youth with special needs: report

Pandemic worsened an already patchwork system, representative says

(stock photo)
Josh Dueck named Team Canada chef de mission for 2022 Beijing Paralympics

Dueck, who was born in Kimberley, has a long career in international competition as a sit-skier.

Janet Austin, the lieutenant-governor of British Columbia, not seen, swears in Premier John Horgan during a virtual swearing in ceremony in Victoria, Thursday, Nov. 26, 2020. Horgan says he will look to fill gaps in the federal government’s sick-pay benefits program aimed at preventing the spread of COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. premier says province prepared to patch holes in new federal sick-pay benefits

Horgan said workers should not be denied pay when they are preventing COVID-19’s spread

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s coronavirus situation at the legislature, Nov. 30, 2020. (B.C. government)
Hockey team brought COVID-19 back from Alberta, B.C. doctor says

Dr. Bonnie Henry pleads for out-of-province travel to stop

B.C. Premier John Horgan on a conference call with religious leaders from his B.C. legislature office, Nov. 18, 2020, informing them in-person church services are off until further notice. (B.C. government)
B.C. tourism relief coming soon, Premier John Horgan says

Industry leaders to report on their urgent needs next week

Most Read