Dr. Karin Goodison says schools are healthy places for kids. (Zoom meeting)

‘Schools are healthy’: IH medical health officer

Children have a low risk of catching and spreading COVID-19

Anxiety around the spread of the novel coronavirus in the classroom can be eased, school and medical officials reassured parents Wednesday, Sept. 23, in a Vernon School District meeting.

Some parents, students and even staff, have been concerned about the return to class, but Interior Health medical health officer Dr. Karin Goodison said schools are the best place for kids to be at this time.

“Schools are healthy,” Goodison said. “We have good evidence that schools are healthy places.”

She says this not just based on facts, but also because she too has a child in the public school system.

“As a parent I feel very confident in the system that is in place,” said Goodison, who has a child at Kalamalka Secondary.

“Children are at low risk at both catching COVID-19 and spreading COVID-19,” Goodison said.

READ MORE: B.C. would not send students back to school if there was ‘overwhelming risk:’ Horgan

The Interior Health region has had a total of 515 positive cases since the start of the pandemic, 31 are active cases in hospital as of Wednesday, Sept. 23.

“We’re getting approximately four cases a day,” Goodison said.

“Only two per cent tested for symptoms compatible with COVID are positive.”

The highest risk is party environments, where food and beverages are shared and people are gathering in large groups.

Whereas the environmental transmission of COVID-19 on books and surfaces at schools is low, Goodison said.

Plus, local school districts are going above and beyond to clean and disinfect surfaces, having hired extra staff and putting extra control measures in place.

“Schools are safe places,” Vernon School District’s assistant director of HR Erica Schmidt said.

“I’m very confident that the schools are a safe place, not just for my kids but your kids as well,” Schmidt said, who is also a mother.

Vernon in particular has had few cases, 21 in total between January and July 31.

READ MORE: Four more cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health

“For children and youth, they aren’t as high risk as adults are,” said Schmidt. “Less than one per cent of children tested in B.C. have been COVID-19 positive so we know that it impacts adults more than children.”

When it comes to young children, some of the rules are a little different. For example, social distancing becomes more difficult with young kids, as well as enforcing masks, which is why masks are only mandatory for Grades 6-12.

A younger child may not be able to put a mask on and take it off appropriately, Goodison explained.

“If a mask is there and bothering them they are actually going to touch their face more and increase the risk of transmission.”

Yet, many young students are still wearing masks, as Vernon School District superintendent Joe Rogers saw on a recent bus ride along.

“Every kid, even the little ones, were wearing masks,” Rogers said, adding the district encourages all students to wear masks on the bus and in spaces where social distancing is not possible such as hallways and cafeterias.

A few of the other changes include not using lockers in high schools, cohorts (maximums of 60 in elementary schools and 120 for high schools), the Copernican or quarterly system, portable hand washing stations at portables, cleaning and sanitizing buses between routes and hiring more custodial staff to clean and disinfect schools. Such control measures could remain commonplace for the entire school year.

“We will likely be in this until next September,” Rogers said.

Goodison echoed the superintendent’s remarks.

“We anticipate making this our new normal,” she said. “We may change in three months time and that’s because we are learning.”

Approximately 95 per cent of students returned to school this year while there was increase to VLearn (online education).

“About 400 more kids have signed up for VLearn than last year,” said Rogers, noting 10 teachers were added to support the increase.

READ MORE: Majority of students back in Vernon classrooms


@VernonNews
jennifer@vernonmorningstar.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

CoronavirusSchools

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

 

Most students heading back to class are wearing masks, some because they are mandated, and others by choice. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)

Just Posted

A house on Highway 3A caught fire Sunday evening, Oct. 25, 2020.
House fire on Highway 3A in Keremeos

Neighbours acted quickly to help save home

x
Morning Start: Bubble wrap was originally intended to be wallpaper

Your morning start for Monday, Oct. 26, 2020

Game Cave Video Games Amusements has become a haven for Penticton gamers since its Oct. 14, 2020 opening. (Game Cave Video Games & Amusements / Facebook)
Gamers flock to new retro video game shop in Penticton

‘It’s like candy land for gamers,’ said one loyal customer

Public skating will return to McLaren Arena in Penticton Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2020. (Contributed)
Public skating returns to Penticton’s McLaren Arena

New health and safety measures will be in effect

Incumbent B.C. Liberal Dan Ashton watching results come in on election night. (Contributed)
B.C. Votes 2020: Incumbent Dan Ashton heading towards third term in Penticton

Ashton was first elected to the legislature in 2013

NDP Leader John Horgan celebrates his election win in the British Columbia provincial election in downtown Vancouver, B.C., Saturday, Oct. 24, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Horgan celebrates projected majority NDP government, but no deadline for $1,000 deposit

Premier-elect says majority government will allow him to tackle issues across all of B.C.

RCMP pictured at a motor vehicle incident during snowy conditions. (Phil McLachlan - Black Press Media)
West Kelowna RCMP investigate serious hit and run over the weekend

According to the police, a pedestrian continues to recover from serious injuries

École de l’Anse-au-sable. (Google Maps)
COVID-19 outbreak forces closure of Kelowna school

French-language school École de l’Anse-au-sable will remain closed until Nov. 4

Vernon Fire Rescue Services responded to a vehicle that crashed into a Vernon home on 17th Street Sunday, Oct. 25, 2020. (City of Vernon photo)
Three hurt after mustang crashes into Vernon home

Vehicle occupants and one resident reported sustaining minor injuries in Sunday incident

A heavy police presence was spotted in Lumby, Monday, Oct. 26, 2020. (Facebook)
BREAKING: Police situation unfolding in Lumby

Police call for social media blackout in ongoing incident

NDP Leader John Horgan speaks with the owner of a barber shop while campaigning in Pitt Meadows, B.C., on Friday, Oct. 16, 2020. Campaigning was restricted by the coronavirus pandemic. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Horgan’s B.C. majority came with historically low voter turnout

Barely half of eligible voters cast ballots in snap election

Five British Columbians and an Alberta man are facing charges linked to a 2018 bust of a Lumby clandestine lab. (RCMP)
Six charged in 2018 Lumby drug lab bust

Bust one of province’s biggest, costing hundreds of thousands of dollars, two men still loose

While Revelstoke has one of the oldest bear awareness societies in the province, the city has yet to implement a community wide bear-proof garbage system. (Submitted)
Saving bears: Revelstoke’s garbage dilemma

More than 400 bears have been killed in the city since 1986

Multiple motor vehicle incidents stalled traffic between Kelowna and Vernon on Highway 97 after a morning snowfall Monday, Oct. 26, 2020. (Pam Wiebe Brunsdon - Facebook)
Slick roads on Monday commute around Vernon

Several accidents have been reported stalling highway traffic

Most Read