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


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katya.slepian@bpdigital.ca

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