KAMLOOPS (NEWS 1130) — Despite 12 students and three teachers at a Sa-Hali Secondary School testing positive for COVID-19, the superintendent in the Kamloops school district is not calling it an outbreak.
Terry Sullivan says there’s no evidence of “uncontrolled transmission” because the Interior Health Authority has confirmed most exposures have been in the community.
“We can expect that it’s proportional, and we will see cases in schools as a result,” he says. “Now why Sa-Hali? That’s a big question. That’s what we’re trying to ascertain. Why has this particular school had 15 cases since January 18th? What’s the question we can’t answer.”
Sullivan confirms the first case was recorded the same week an outbreak was declared at the Kamloops hospital and cases at the school may be linked. He also confirmed a possible link to Royal Inland Hospital’s outbreak.
But Sullivan says he wants to stress that although 12 students were infected with the virus, there are a total of 903 students at the school. And while three employees tested positive, they have a total of 73 people on staff.
He adds, in total, 18 staff and about 200 students have had to self-isolate.
For months now, teachers across the province have been calling for a mandatory mask mandate in classrooms but Sullivan says the decision should be left to health experts.
“There’s all kinds of opinions out there as to what we should be doing to reduce the virus. But the only people who have the statutory responsibility to give the advice with respect to what we should be doing, and also have to accept the responsibility … with respect to advice that they give — That’s the people in health. The doctors and the nurses and the health care professionals,” he says.
Thursday morning, Education Minister Jennifer Whiteside and Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry are expected to announce an update on what’s being done to keep the virus from spreading in schools.