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'Hope for the best, prepare the worst': B.C. school districts plan for novel coronavirus

Last Updated Feb 10, 2020 at 5:13 pm PST

FILE- Medical workers in protective gear talk with a woman suspected of being ill with a coronavirus at a community health station in Wuhan in central China's Hubei Province, Monday, Jan. 27, 2020. China on Monday expanded sweeping efforts to contain a viral disease by extending the Lunar New Year holiday to keep the public at home and avoid spreading infection. (Chinatopix via AP)
Summary

School districts in B.C. are preparing for worst, but hoping for the best when it comes to the novel coronavirus

The first presumptive case of the virus in B.C. was confirmed in the Vancouver Coastal Health region

School districts will work closely with health authorities over concerns about exposure and confirmed infections

SURREY (NEWS 1130) — B.C.’s Minister of Education says schools are hoping for the best but preparing for the worst as the novel coronavirus makes its first appearance in the province.

The first presumptive case of the virus in B.C. was confirmed in the Vancouver Coastal Health region Monday night, but health officials say the risk of spreading is still low for the province.

Meanwhile, many parents are following the developing coronavirus closely, as schools develop a plan to contain the virus if it spreads.

“We’ve already opened the lines of communication with the school districts about how and what a response might look like in the school system,” Rob Fleming says.


All 60 superintendents in the province have been in contact with the deputy minister to prepare contingencies, according to Flemming.

“[The plan] will be scaled appropriately to what the infections conditions look like in British Columbia.”

Flemming adds school districts will work closely with health authorities over concerns about exposure or confirmed infections.

Spokesperson for Surrey’s school board Ritinder Mathew says messages about flu season typically go out around this time of year to keep parents informed. Since the new virus has similar symptoms to the flu, the same reminders were reiterated.

“So reminding staff and students to stay home if they’re sick, wash their hands, cough into their sleeves, all the usual influenza messaging,” she explains. “We’re telling students and parents to speak with their health care professionals to manage their symptoms.”

She says the board is taking all directions from Fraser Health.

Editor’s note: We have changed the headline and edited this article to correctly refer to the new virus.