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If a B.C. teacher gets COVID-19, will all of their students have to self-isolate?

Last Updated Sep 8, 2020 at 10:28 am PDT

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Summary

Members of a learning group will need to self-isolate while public health officials investigate a COVID-19 case

Students may be allowed to return to school if officials deem it safe

Learning groups will limit potential spread of coronavirus

NEWS 1130 is working hard to get you the information you need about the COVID-19 pandemic.

We are responding to your questions in a segment we call NEWS 1130 Gets Answers.

Question:

A listener in Maple Ridge asked us about the protocols at B.C. schools if a teacher or education assistant tests positive for COVID-19. If they have “five classes a day, with 30 students each, do all 150 of those students need to then stay home and quarantine for 14 days?”

Answer:

The scenario presented, in which a teacher is in contact with as many as 150 different students in one day, is unlikely, thanks to new protocols for breaking students and staff into smaller “learning groups,” according to Ministry of Education spokesperson Craig Sorochan.

“We know that most districts are moving to a quarterly semester model precisely to limit the number of students each teacher will see each day,” he said.

The plan also requires on-call teachers and education assistants to wear a mask or physically distance from others if they are working with more than one cohort.

But if a teacher does get COVID-19, that doesn’t necessarily mean every student with whom they’ve shared a classroom will need to go into self-isolation.

“Students and staff who are in the cohort of a confirmed COVID-19 case may not be true contacts,” another education ministry spokesperson said. “Public health decides who is a true contact based on their investigation.”

But members of the teacher’s learning group will need to isolate at home while such an investigation is underway, a Ministry of Health spokesperson Shannon Greer said.

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