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B.C. parent advocate hopes school COVID response teams include prevention

Last Updated Mar 2, 2021 at 3:21 pm PDT

FILE (Lasia Kretzel, NEWS 1130 Photo)
Summary

Surrey school parent and safety advocate says six rapid response teams is a move in the right direction

PAC president at Surrey school says rapid response teams sound great, if they are proactive

Education minister says response teams aimed at providing extra level of support, communication

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – As more schools in B.C. deal with COVID-19 exposures involving variants of concern, the province is putting six rapid response teams around B.C. A Surrey school parent and safety advocate says this is a move in the right direction.

Variants of concern are now in the mix at Woodward Hill Elementary, where Cindy Dalglish is president of the parent advisory committee. She says the teams sound great, as long as they offer proactive support.

“If this is going to identify the gaps and help support people by bringing in additional resources to make sure that they’re able to meet their safety mechanisms and plans that are in place, [this is] absolutely fantastic,” she said.

“But I am cautious that we don’t need one more person with their clipboard just telling people how to manage their classrooms in their day to day, when the resources aren’t there to support that,” she added.

RELATED: Staff at Surrey school undergo rapid testing due to COVID-19 variant case

The province is spending $900,000 to fund the six teams — one for each health authority and one for independent schools — to support schools with exposures and identify where safety plans need to be bolstered.

“The proactiveness with these teams … that’s where I think it’s more necessary than just looking back at all the things that may have gone wrong. Let’s also be proactive before the cases come,” Dalglish said.

Some parents would rather the money go to bolstering safety measures, like having fewer students in each class.

RELATED: Testing at Surrey schools finds 3 more cases of COVID-19 variant

Education Minister Jennifer Whiteside says this is an “anxious time for the school community,” and the rapid response teams aim to provide an extra level of support and communication, as well as take a close look at safety plans.

“When our safety plans in schools are in place and being adhered to — and we don’t have any gaps in those safety plans — we know that that is when our schools are safest,” she said.

“Through reviews of exposures situations — particularly recently in Fraser Health — we know that a review of those safety plans identified some gaps,” she added.

She says the province is not considering any changes or rescheduling of spring break.