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Parent group says it recorded record number of COVID-19 alerts at B.C. schools on Monday

Last Updated Nov 10, 2020 at 10:50 am PDT

FILE (Lasia Kretzel, NEWS 1130 Photo)
Summary

A mother who tracks COVID-19 exposure notices at schools says she believes numbers are higher than what are reported

BC School COVID Tracker says trust is breaking down even between parents and public health officials over information

Officials maintain there are few transmissions occurring in schools, but a B.C. mom questions whether that's the case

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – An independent group run by parents dedicated to sharing information about COVID-19 cases at B.C. schools says it’s tracked a record-high number of COVID-19 exposure alerts in a single day on Monday.

The group, BC School COVID Tracker, says trust is breaking down even further between parents and public health officials over how information is being shared.

Kathy Marliss, a mom who tracks these numbers through the Facebook group, says 34 COVID-19 exposure events were tracked and communicated by public health officials to parents on Monday alone.

Officials maintain there are few transmissions occurring in schools, but Marliss questions whether that’s actually the case.

“In Chilliwack, as an example, I think there’s 38 kids that were, unfortunately, tested positive and then those students went to school and caused exposures in those schools. And then, you know, we’ve heard that other teachers and other students have been infected because of that,” she tells NEWS 1130.

She says parents are losing faith in the information they’re being given, as they hear about multiple cases being lumped into single exposure notices.

Marliss and others continue to press for more hybrid and online learning options to be made available to families who want them.

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Surrey Schools Superintendent Jordan Tinney said on Monday in a video posted to Twitter that he sees transmission as when an entire class has to go into isolation.

There have only been three transmission and isolation events, over 123 exposures at Surrey schools, he said.

“We are keeping things in check,” Tinney said. “If we weren’t, we would see many more transmission situations in schools and we’re just not seeing that. I’m not saying that it hasn’t happened, but again, 123 notices of exposure, three cases of self-isolation.”

Marliss says she’s been hearing directly from teachers, support workers, and parents who are growing disenfranchised with official communications and the lack of specifics included in them.

“That’s the big concern, because people do know and they’re getting angry. They’re getting frustrated. Because they might be personally involved in that particular situation,” she adds.

“Handfuls of people are sick at one exposure notice. They’re not really producing information publicly about that, which is an issue. But, ya, we’re hearing a very, very different scenario.”

Most of the COVID exposure cases noted on Monday occurred in Surrey and Chilliwack with others listed in Langley, Abbotsford, Agassiz, Vancouver and West Vancouver.

On Monday, Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry reiterated that keeping kids in school is a priority, and clarified that cases are cropping up among students and teachers because of contacts outside of school.

“We’ve seen it around the world and we’ve seen it here in B.C. What happens in schools reflects what’s happening in the community. We have seen exposures at schools in the province, but we see very little transmission in schools,” she said.