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What happens when a COVID-19 case is reported at a school? Surrey district lays out its plan

Last Updated Sep 15, 2020 at 6:50 am PDT

(Lasia Kretzel, NEWS1130 photo)

The Surrey School District's superintendent is explaining to parents what happens when COVID-19 is detected at a school

Surrey has reported two cases of COVID-19 at schools in the city

The most important thing a school can do at this time is keep an open line of communication, superintendent says

SURREY (NEWS 1130) – Kids haven’t even been back in class for a week but¬†already a few cases of COVID-19 have shown¬†up in schools around Metro Vancouver

Surrey has confirmed two cases of the coronavirus — one at Panorama Ridge, the other at Johnston Heights — but how are things handled when a case is detected at your child’s school?

Jordan Tinney, the superintendent of the Surrey school district, says it starts with determining when the person was infected.

“So, coordinated between health and the school district, we will let you know if there’s a confirmed case at school and if that impacts you at all,” he says in a video posted online.

Tinney says things have changed since just a few months ago, when kids were brought back to classes after shutdowns forced by the pandemic following spring break.

In March, a school would be shut down when a case was reported there. Now, Tinney says more stringent protocols are in place, and public health has a laser-like focus on what needs to be done.

“Fast forward to the fall, things are much different. First and foremost, our cleaning protocols are vastly different than they were in the spring, and that impacts things a lot,” Tinney explains.

“The second and most important piece, is how do we treat individual cases in our work with public health?”

Testing is available in B.C. for those concerned about possibly being infected with COVID-19. With thousands of tests administered each day, Tinney says only a fraction come back positive for COVID-19.

“So we’re learning a lot about our positivity rate and what that means in terms of the number of cases coming forward,” he says in the video, adding those who test positive are then interviewed by public health officials to determine not only when the person was infected, but who they may have come in contact with.

“If the case was infectious while they were at school, or if they became infected while at school, then they will work with us, public health will work with us and we will begin our communications plans and talking to our employees or students.”

Anyone identified as being a “close contact” of someone who’s tested positive for COVID-19 will then be instructed to self-isolate, Tinney says.

However, the most important thing the school can do during such a time is to keep an open line of communication, he notes.

Tinney reminds people to keep up the physical distancing and other measures to stay safe.

“Practicing hand washing, not touching your face, wearing a mask where appropriate — all of these things matter,” he says. “Most importantly, don’t come to school, to work sick or with symptoms.”

However, when it happens, Tinney says public health officials can be counted on.

The Delta School District has also reported one case of COVID-19 since the start of school last week.