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Five North Okanagan-Shuswap Schools report potential COVID-19 exposure events

Three public and two independent schools had potential exposures, according to Interior Health
Shuswap Middle School is one of five schools in the North Okanagan-Shuswap to have had a potential COVID-19 exposure event between Sept. 17 and Sept. 24 according to Interior Health. (Lachlan Labere-Salmon Arm Observer)

Three School District 83 schools are on Interior Health’s (IH) list of COVID-19 exposures in public schools.

According to IH, Shuswap Middle School in Salmon Arm and A.L. Fortune Secondary in Enderby both had a potential exposure event on Sept. 17.

Pleasant Valley Secondary School in Armstrong had potential exposure events on Sept. 20 and 21.

IH also reports COVID-19 exposures in independent schools, and two from the North Okanagan-Shuswap recently were on the list as of Sept. 30.

King’s Christian School in Salmon Arm had a potential exposure event on Sept. 20 and 21, and St. James School in Vernon had potential exposure events each day from Sept. 20 to 24.

IH said when a school staff member or student tests positive for COVID-19, Public Health will notify staff and students who need to take a specific action.

The fourth wave of the pandemic is affecting schools and seniors in care, according to data from the B.C. government.

The increase in community infection from the Delta variant of the coronavirus is showing up in schools, particularly in students aged five to 11 who aren’t yet eligible for COVID-19 vaccines in Canada.

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said research shows areas with high community vaccination such as Vancouver Island also show lower infections in school-aged children.

Henry said the B.C. Centre for Disease Control is watching the school situation closely, but isn’t moving to extend the school mask mandate to include children from kindergarten to Grade 3. Daily symptom checks, restrictions on mingling between grades, and improving ventilation in schools is helping, and getting community immunization to higher levels is the most important step, she said.

With files from Jennifer Smith and Tom Fletcher

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