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Back to school amid COVID-19 pandemic a 'win-less' situation, expert says

Last Updated Sep 14, 2020 at 9:08 am PST

FILE -- A sign outside Hastings Elementary Community School in Vancouver reminds anyone entering the school to adhere to COVID-19 protocols. (Lasia Kretzel, NEWS1130 Photo)

An expert says he's supportive of remote learning options amid COVID-19

Infectious diseases specialist says concern isn't necessarily about kids getting COVID-19 amid return to school

There are concerns about who a child might pass COVID-19 onto in their bubbles if they contract the virus

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – With most schools reopened across B.C., the concern isn’t necessarily about kids getting COVID-19 — it’s about who they might pass it on to.

That’s coming from an infectious diseases expert, who’s a fan of giving families the option of remote learning.

“Obviously, we’ve got to be very careful with something like this,” Dr. Isaac Bogoch tells NEWS 1130, adding people of all ages can get and transmit the coronavirus.

He says if school plans aren’t implemented well, schools can become “a source of amplification of COVID-19 in the community.”

“In general, kids do fairly well with this infection — they can have rare negative effects, but by and large kids tend to have pretty mild infections. But the issue is, who do they go home to? And who would they transmit it to?” he asks, adding people at risk can range from teachers and staff, to parents, grandparents, and more.

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That’s why school environments need to be looked at carefully. However, Bogoch admits there’s no one solution, and not everyone will be appeased.

“This is, unfortunately, a win-less issue, there’s going to be problems no matter what,” Bogoch says. “I think that many of the provinces are just finding ways to navigate these problems as best as they can. But, of course, there’s going to be no perfect solution, unfortunately, with something like this.”

Bogoch, who works out of the Toronto General Hospital, says there’s no perfect plan when it comes to how to educate children during a pandemic.

Acknowledging there will be strengths and weaknesses with any plan, Bogoch says parents are understandably concerned.

However, he appreciates that many provincial plans include remote learning caveats.

“There’s sort of e-learning or home learning options for students, such that if a child is just at greater risk for having a severe infection or perhaps a child comes from a home where someone under that roof is at risk for severe infection, that child at least has the option to have their education in a safer environment at home.”

Having said that, Bogoch admits there are many families who don’t have the luxury of e-learning or home learning, maybe because parents have to go to work and can’t be at home with their children.