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B.C. parents create Facebook group, share info about COVID-19 in schools

Last Updated Sep 29, 2020 at 5:44 am PDT

Summary

Richmond parent Kathy Marliss created a Facebook page called 'BC School Covid Tracker'

Nearly 7,000 people have joined in the week since the online COVID-19 case tracker launched

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — A group of parents and teachers have taken it upon themselves to track COVID-19 cases in B.C. schools, amid concerns people are being asked to keep quiet.

Richmond parent Kathy Marliss created a Facebook page called “BC School Covid Tracker.”

Nearly 7,000 people have joined in the week since it launched.

Marliss says the mission of this initiative is to make accurate information available in real time.

“We are not into sharing misinformation. So, parents will send screenshots from school or public health they’ve received and whether they’ve been told to monitor for symptoms. It’s simply to know,” she says.

The mission of this citizen initiative for transparency of data on schools affected by COVID in British Columbia is to…

Posted by BC School Covid Tracker on Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Health authorities post exposure notices online but some parents and teachers have been critical of how quickly and thoroughly these sites are updated. Health officials and school districts have repeatedly reassured that all close contacts of anyone in a school who tests positive will receive individual notifications.

“All across the province we follow up individually for anyone who have had a close contact, and in some small cases children have been asked to stay home from school,” Dr. Bonnie Henry said Monday.

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One letter posted to Marliss’ Facebook page, which appears to have been sent from SD 48 in Squamish, has sparked transparency concerns from parents.

It reads in part, “It is also critically important that all members of the school district community and the parents of our students respect the privacy rights of every individual. This means that individual members of our school community and or parents should not provide any public statement or communications about potential or confirmed COVID-19 cases.”

Henry says this instruction is meant to protect the privacy of someone who may have been exposed.

“I don’t believe that there’s been ‘hush letters’. We do ask people to respect other people’s privacy, and we do reassure people that we’re not going to be telling the rest of the school or the class about your child or your family interaction,” she said.

Getting more information quicker is something Marliss feels, based on the feedback she’s received, parents really want.

“I’m like, ‘I wasn’t nuts. People really do want this info, it’s not just me,'” she said.