École de l’Anse-au-sable had to shut its doors until Nov. 4 after health officials declared a COVID-19 outbreak in the school. (Contributed)

École de l’Anse-au-sable had to shut its doors until Nov. 4 after health officials declared a COVID-19 outbreak in the school. (Contributed)

Pandemic safety in Central Okanagan schools starts in the community

COVID-19 school outbreaks last week result of positive test cases rising in B.C.

A safe community translates into safe schools.

That is the approach taken by Interior Health in response to concerns about safety of students in schools amid the COVID-19 pandemic, and it is reiterated by Central Okanagan Public Schools superintendent/CEO Kevin Kaardal.

“If we want to keep schools safe, the most important thing is for the community to follow up on what Dr. (Bonnie) Henry’s advice to get those numbers down,” said Kaardal.

This past week, COVID-19 outbreaks were detected in three private schools, and one public school.

Francophone school École de l’Anse-au-sable shut its doors until Nov. 4, after health officials declared a COVID-19 outbreak last week. So far, 16 cases have been identified and 175 members of the school community are self-isolating after being exposed to the virus.

Aberdeen Hall Preparatory School reported a preschool student tested positive for the virus, while a case was reported on Oct. 21 and 22 at St. Joseph Catholic School.

The health authority also confirmed two unrelated positive tests for Kelowna Senior Secondary (KSS) students, both of which were dealt with individually following Interior Health (IH) approved health safety protocols, said Kaardal.

READ MORE: Interior Health records third COVID-19 death

One KSS student acquired the disease from a household member and is self-isolating at home.

“The virus will be coming into the schools from the community and we have strong protocols in place to deal with that which Interior Health has been very complimentary about,” he said.

Kaardal says the public needs to follow Henry’s advice to wash our hands, social distance, keep our personal bubbles small and respect the ‘safe six’ public or family gathering protocol.

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry announced a new order Monday barring people from having more than six guests over at a home at once for the time being.

“This order limits gatherings in private homes to no more than your immediate household, plus your safe six. This is going to be a challenge more for some people than others, but this is something we need to do together as a community so we can get through the coming respiratory season,” said Henry at a press conference on Oct. 26.

For large families who live together, Henry suggested six additional guests “may be too many,” though she didn’t provide a specific threshold.

The announcement came after officials revealed 817 cases of COVID-19 were identified across B.C. over the weekend of Oct. 23 to 25, including 317 cases in a single day, which shattered the previous daily record of 274 that was set just days earlier.

“As much as we all get fatigued about it these safety measures are put in place for a reason….and we all have to keep doing our part every day,” Kaardal said.

READ MORE: Replacing Rutland Middle School still a priority: Central Okanagan School District

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