Hope Secondary School. (Emelie Peacock/Hope Standard)

Hope Secondary School. (Emelie Peacock/Hope Standard)

Update: Fourth COVID-19 exposure at Hope Secondary School confirmed

Hope high school the only school in Fraser Cascade to experience multiple exposures

Hope Secondary School has now had four COVID-19 exposures at the school since Oct. 30, the only school in the Fraser Cascade school district to have experienced multiple exposures.

Fraser Health defines an exposure as a “single person with [a] lab-confirmed COVID-19 infection who attended school during their infectious period” and lists these on a public website. The fourth such exposure to date at Hope Secondary occured on Nov. 19 and 20, according to Fraser Health.

Hope Secondary School has experienced exposures on Oct. 30, Nov. 11 to 13, Nov. 19 and 20 as well as a fourth exposure whose date was not specified by the school district. Letters to parents regarding the exposures were sent Nov. 1, Nov. 17, Nov. 25 and Nov. 27 superintendent Balan Moorthy confirmed.

Another exposure occured at Agassiz Elementary Secondary School on Nov. 4, 5 and 6, and so far none of the Fraser Cascade school district (SD78) elementary schools nor the Boston Bar Elementary Secondary School have experienced exposures.

Moorthy said he understands there are fears and concerns about COVID-19 and also about the continuity of learning. “Automatically the community gets afraid of [the exposure] and they don’t want to send their kids to school,” he said. The fear is that the school population could drop, but this hasn’t been seen in communities with a lot more exposures such as Abbotsford, Surrey and Langley Moorthy said. “Now they’re beginning to realize that the exposures are more community oriented, and they’re not getting a lot of transmission in between schools.”

While he could not speak directly to the cases at the high school due to privacy rules, Moorthy said that around 99 per cent of transmissions in B.C. are when people go out into the community and contract COVID-19 from “playing a community sport or they’ve gone to a localized event.”

Of the latest exposure at Hope Secondary, Moorthy said it was a “very localized incident in a very confined space over a progressive period of time.”

“While it’s scary and it’s tragic with the amount of loss that has happened across North America, and in no way would I ever undermine the seriousness of it. What I do firmly believe that the best place for kids to be right now in school,” he said.

The number of students not attending in-class instruction full time has gone from 237 to 176 across the school district he said at a Nov. 17 school board meeting. Those not in class could be either transitioning back to classes by the latest end of November (option 2 outlined earlier this fall by SD78), continuing online learning through the Western Canadian Learning Network and monitored by a classroom teacher (option 3) or families opting to homeschool (option 4).

Moorthy referenced a letter sent to families whose children were in option 2, about making a decision on whether to return to in class learning. “The timing isn’t great” he acknowledged, yet the focus needs to be improving options for students as some of those in option 2 are not attending at all. “So by the end of November, into early December, students will either be in school, or we will be assigning them to a teacher who will help to monitor them online for the remainder of the school year.”

Loss of learning and emotional health of students is impacted if they are not in school, plus there has been “very, very little transmission between people in the general school setting.”

In an interview with the Hope Standard last week, Moorthy said the school district has “probably the lowest rates of COVID in the entire Lower Mainland” and in the Fraser Valley.

In neighbouring communities, the number of exposures are higher than in SD78: three Abbotsford schools are listed on the Fraser Health site with exposures, as well as three Chilliwack schools. Four independent schools in Abbotsford and one in Chilliwack also have exposures currently listed.

There are also schools in the Fraser Health region and across B.C. experiencing clusters, outbreaks and functional closures, including an outbreak declared Nov. 27 at Surrey’s Newton Elementary School after 16 COVID-19 positive cases were identified.

When a student or teacher is confirmed positive, the health authority begins contact tracing to find out how they person was infected and who they were in close contact with. Close contacts who may be at increased risk are notified and advised to self-isolate or self-monitor for symptoms of COVID-19 for two weeks.

People in the same learning cohort, friends or other contacts may be determined by public health not to be close contacts. And for families who receive notifications of exposures at their school, Fraser Health advises that this does not mean their child has been exposed to COVID-19. “If you do not receive a phone call or letter from Public Health, your child should continue to attend school,” Fraser Health stated, adding that families can monitor their child for symptoms using a self-assessment tool found at bc.thrive.health.

Moorthy said that any parents with concerns should contact him. The school district office can be reached at 604-869-2411.

Editor’s note: A previous version of this story misstated the number of COVID-19 exposures at Hope Secondary School. There have been four exposures in total at the school. The Hope Standard apologizes for any confusion this may have caused.

Do you have something to add to this story, or something else we should report on? Email:
emelie.peacock@hopestandard.com


Facebook and follow us on Twitter

CoronavirusSchools

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

Just Posted

Fraser Health issued an overdose alert on Jan. 21, 2021 after an increase in overdoses over the past week in Chilliwack associated with a “greeny-blue/turquoise down substance.” (Paul Henderson/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Fraser Health issues drug overdose alert in Chilliwack

Alert comes after increase in overdoses associated with ‘greeny-blue/turquoise down substance’

Chilliwack Chiefs forward Sasha Teleguine, seen here with Thayer Academy, is on the NHL’s Central Scouting Bureau updated watch list. (Twitter photo)
Chilliwack Chief Sasha Teleguine holds spot on Central Scouting Bureau’s watch list

Teleguine and Prince George forward Finlay Williams are viewed as potential late round NHL picks

ds
Mission potbellied-pig sanctuary mourns death of beloved old hog named Roscoe

14-year-old, 800-pound pig was ‘quite a character,’ said owner Janice Gillett

Vancouver/Fraser Valley CoSA holds a webinar on Jan. 26 titled Staying Safe Online.
‘Staying Safe Online’ is subject of Fraser Valley webinar

Session on Tuesday, Jan. 26 is hosted by non-profit Circles of Support and Accountability

A door is boarded up following a fire at Pho Xuan restaurant on Yale Road on Friday, Jan. 22, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
UPDATE: Early morning fire at vacant Chilliwack restaurant was deliberately set

Fire erupted north of the Yale Road overpass at Pho Xuan, which was permanently closed

Toronto Public Health nurse Lalaine Agarin sets up for mass vaccination clinic in Toronto, Jan. 17, 2021. B.C. is set to to begin its large-scale immunization program for the general public starting in April. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
B.C.’s COVID-19 mass vaccinations expected to start in April

Clinics to immunize four million people by September

Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam speaks during a daily briefing in Ottawa. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld)
31 cases of COVID-19 variants detected in Canada: Health officials

Dr. Theresa Tam made announces 13 more variant COVID-19 cases in Canada

Daily COVID-19 cases reported to each B.C. health region, to Jan. 20, 2021. Island Health in blue, Northern Health green, Interior Health orange, Vancouver Coastal in red and Fraser Health in purple. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection rate stays stable with 508 cases Friday

Vaccine delivered to more than 110,000 high-risk people

The District of Saanich’s communications team decided to take part in a viral trend on Thursday and photoshopped U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders into a staff meeting photo. (District of Saanich/Twitter)
Bernie Sanders makes guest appearance municipal staff meeting in B.C.

Vancouver Island firefighters jump on viral trend of photoshopped U.S. senator

School District 57 headquarters in Prince George. (Mark Nielsen, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter)
Prince George school district settles with sexual abuse victim

Terms were part of an out-of-court settlement reached with Michael Bruneau, nearly four years after he filed a lawsuit

Surrey provincial court. (File photo: Tom Zytaruk)
New COVID-19 protocols set for provincial courthouses

The new rules were issued on Jan. 21, and took effect immediately

Police in Vancouver looking for male suspect who allegedly spat and attacked a store manager for not wearing a mask, at 7-Eleven near Alma Street and West 10th Avenue just before noon on Dec. 17, 2020. (Vancouver police handout)
VIDEO: Man spits on 7-Eleven manager over mask rule, sparking Vancouver police probe

‘Unfortunately, the store manager sustained a cut to his head during the assault’

The Vancouver-based SAR team successfully rescued two lost snowshoers off of the west side of Tim Jones Peak in the early morning of Monday, Jan. 19. (North Shore Rescue photo)
B.C.’s busiest SAR team raises alarm after 2021 begins with fatality, multiple rescues

‘People beyond ski resort areas of Seymour, Grouse, and Cypress go without cell reception,’ SAR warns

Post-COVID-19 recovery clinic in Surrey, at Jim Pattison Outpatient Care and Surgery Centre. (Photo: Fraser Health)
Surrey to host 1 of 3 post-COVID recovery clinics in Lower Mainland

The Jim Pattison Outpatient Care and Surgery Centre is located at 9750 140th Street

Most Read