The Vernon School District reports 95 per cent of its students have returned to classrooms amid the COVID-19 pandemic. (Jennifer Smith - Vernon Morning Star)

Students commended for keeping COVID-19 cases low in North Okanagan schools

Five confirmed cases in the school district since September 2020

A low infection rate among students and staff means there have been only five cases of COVID-19 since September 2020 among Vernon schools.

Compared to the high numbers in Kelowna (there were eight listed as of Dec. 11), the slow rise in the North Okanagan is commended.

“Let us begin by thanking you for following the school district safety plans and keeping the COVID-19 infection rate low, both in the community and in our schools,” Vernon school board chair Gen Acton said in a letter to families this week. “I would also like to recognize and thank our teachers, administrators and support staff for the outstanding service they provide our students. COVID-19 has presented many challenges that our staff have faced with resilience and professionalism.”

As the numbers continue to rise, and public masks are mandatory, calls for school-wide masks are not being mandated.

“Masks are not mandatory in classes but many students and teachers have made the choice to wear them. We respect that choice,” superintendent Joe Rogers said. “Our students are doing an excellent job of wearing their masks in hallways and in crowed areas outside their cohort when they cannot maintain physical distancing.”

READ MORE: Vernon ‘schools are healthy’: IH medical health officer

Dr. Bonnie Henry’s latest orders include:

  • no play dates for children
  • no outdoor gatherings, no social gatherings of any size at your home with anyone other than your household or core bubble
  • suspension of all adult team sports
  • suspension of youth games but practice and skill building can continue
  • all non-essential travel should be avoided – do not travel to visit family or friends outside your bubble

“We are also fortunate that the community is also following Dr. Henry’s recent orders to wear their masks and reduce their contacts to their immediate family,” Acton said. “A low community infection rate means a low school infection rate.”

The Vernon school district’s first priority continues to be the health and safety of students, staff and families. The following protocols remain in place:

  • Parents are reminded to do a health checks each morning on students and not to send a child with symptoms or illness to school
  • Masks for K-12 are required on buses
  • Masks for grades 6-12 are required in common areas, hallways, and areas where physical distancing cannot be maintained
  • Mask use is encouraged in classes and cohorts

Students need to wash/disinfect their hands throughout the day

Custodial staff and enhanced cleaners are sanitizing high touch areas throughout the day

Buses are cleaned after each route

Access to schools is limited to staff and students

Parent visitor access is by appointment

Drop off and pick-up – parents are asked to remain in their vehicle unless it is necessary to assist your child into or out of the vehicle. If parents must exit their vehicles during pick-up and dropoff times, please adhere to the school district protocol: wear a mask and maintain physical distancing

  • Parents are asked not to socialize with other parents while waiting for their child or after dropping off their children

“As a COVID-19 vaccine becomes available we need to continue to work together to reduce the risk,” Acton said.

READ MORE: COVID-19 numbers rise slowly in North Okanagan-Shuswap


@VernonNews
jennifer@vernonmorningstar.com

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