VERNON (NEWS 1130) — While anxiety looms about when the province will record its first official COVID-19 outbreak inside a school, parents are making adjustments to ensure their kids stay safe during the pandemic.
The founder of a Vancouver-based mineral exploration company is one of them.
Tony Reda, CEO of Tectonic Metals Inc., is a single father of three children all under the age of 13.
He says he’s mainly working out of their home in Coldstream, while his 12-year-old son and two girls aged 11 and nine go to schools in Vernon.
“Best thing about kids is that they’re super resilient. They seem to be doing quite well actually, which I was surprised. If you didn’t know any better, you might actually think things were ‘normal.'”
Reda says, before classes resumed the second week of September, he had a frank discussion with the children about what to expect and how to protect themselves.
“We are going to survive this and no matter what happens, we’re going to get through it. You just have to break it down sort of at their level. Kids are insanely smart and adaptable. Yes, they do forget, but they can be steered back on course very quickly.”
“Definitely feels more safe here. There’s more room up here. We’re not as densely populated.”
That’s what the CEO of Vancouver-based Tectonic Metals –and single dad– Tony Reda tells @NEWS1130 about working from home as his children go to school in #Vernon during #COVID19. pic.twitter.com/GvHfi0juIP
— Marcella Bernardo (@Bernardo1130) October 5, 2020
Reda adds he’s grateful his kids are going to school far away from the Lower Mainland where the risk of exposure is much higher.
“Definitely feels more safe here. There’s more room up here. We’re not as densely populated. That being said, we’re not scared to go to Vancouver, but our trips aren’t that often anymore.”
He tells NEWS 1130 he is prepared for any one of them to get sick prompting the entire family to quarantine for two weeks.
“I’m willing as a parent to be exposed to help them get through it. They are doing a fantastic job. Teachers themselves are communicating regularly with the students and with the parents.”
Reda admits this is a sacrifice not every parent can make, but he’s confident the system is working well.
“It’s going to be interesting to see how things unfold in the coming weeks and months, with the regular flu season being upon us. I am prepared that the whole school system could shut down.”
Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry says contact tracing so far has been strong, so she doesn’t think an entire school will have to close unless staffing levels become an issue.
Reda says he can’t speak for what’s happening at schools in the Lower Mainland, but communications in the Vernon area have been so good, a teacher sent an email during the first week of school to notify him she was self-isolating because her daughter tested positive.
As for how he and his team of as many as 12 employees are managing, he says they’re thriving. He hasn’t had to lay off anyone because his industry is considered an essential service.
“Probably one of our busiest years on record and the company’s in a very healthy position. We do run a very lean operation,” he notes.
Reda adds the only Tectonic Metals employee who tested positive for COVID-19 has also been working from home.
“She’s doing quite well and obviously very healthy right now. We do have mineral projects in Alaska, so we did execute a couple of exploration programs this year. Prior to departure, we had a COVID management plan in place where they were taking their daily temperatures, they were monitoring for flu symptoms, they wouldn’t travel and when they arrived in Alaska — as soon as they touched foot, they got tested. They also had to quarantine to make sure they were clear and then, when they went up in the field, there was social distancing protocols, handwashing stations, sanitizing stations, face masks at every step of the way and, luckily, we executed those two programs and no one contracted the corona virus.”
So how does Reda manage to run his company long distance?
“When COVID hit, we were already doing it. We sort of refrained from our in-person meetings. We actually have a retreat, a corporate retreat coming up here and we’re going to do it completely online.”
Reda also says some family members in Toronto have the virus and his father –who’s a smoker– lives in Vancouver, so he’s worried about him getting exposed.