School District 23 (SD23) is confident they are doing everything they can do to reduce the number of COVID-19 transmissions within their schools.
SD23 superintendent Kevin Kaardal stressed schools are safe.
“We really care about your kids, and we care about our staff, and we’re doing everything that we can to reduce the risk of transmission.”
Almost daily, new cases are announced at schools in SD23. At Kelowna Secondary School (KSS), a number of exposures have been announced in the past few weeks.
Kaardal stressed the cases at the schools have been a result of non-symptomatic individuals entering the schools and transmitting the virus.
Those infected so far, he said, have been both staff and students.
In some cases, numerous individuals have entered into self-isolation. Kaardal again stressed this has been out of an abundance of caution.
He said they have not encountered an individual who came to school sick, knowing they were sick.
“People have been really careful to not come to school sick, whether staff or students,” he said, adding that as soon as individuals have symptoms, they are getting tested.
He acknowledged it seems as though there are many cases at KSS, however, compared to the roughly 2000 students at the school, he said the number of cases are below one per cent. He said their case numbers are simply reflecting the numbers occurring in the community.
He is encouraged by the fact Interior Health region is not experiencing the same numbers of COVID-19 cases seen in the Lower Mainland. He’s also encouraged by conversations with local health officers.
“Medical (Interior Health) health officers continue to tell me they are very pleased regarding the fact there doesn’t seem to be transmission in schools, and if there is, it’s very minimal and being caught by the protocols we have in place to reduce that risk.”
He said it’s important for kids to attend school.
“I think the really important message is that schools are really important for kids, for their academic development, mental and social health,” Kaardal said.
“The risks of not having school far outweigh the current experience we’re having in schools.”
Kaardal acknowledged there’s fear in the community.
“We always know there will be anxiety and fear in these circumstances and it’s quite understandable, and we encourage people to contact their principals and have a conversation.”
There, principals can share with community members SD23’s ‘robust and layered’ plan to keep students and staff safe while learning.
“If there’s worry, then I think you need to do your part to close down your bubble, and let’s get this under control in the community,” he said.
“All of us have our personal responsibility to follow the directions of Bonnie Henry, reduce our bubbles, stop social activities outside… let’s get this curve flattened. A safe community means safer schools.”
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