Dr. Karin Goodison says schools are healthy places for kids. (Zoom meeting)

Dr. Karin Goodison says schools are healthy places for kids. (Zoom meeting)

Vernon ‘schools are healthy’: IH medical health officer

Children have a low risk of catching and spreading COVID-19

Anxiety around the spread of the novel coronavirus in the classroom can be eased, school and medical officials reassured parents Wednesday, Sept. 23, in a Vernon School District meeting.

Some parents, students and even staff, have been concerned about the return to class, but Interior Health medical health officer Dr. Karin Goodison said schools are the best place for kids to be at this time.

“Schools are healthy,” Goodison said. “We have good evidence that schools are healthy places.”

She says this not just based on facts, but also because she too has a child in the public school system.

“As a parent I feel very confident in the system that is in place,” said Goodison, who has a child at Kalamalka Secondary.

“Children are at low risk at both catching COVID-19 and spreading COVID-19,” Goodison said.

READ MORE: B.C. would not send students back to school if there was ‘overwhelming risk:’ Horgan

The Interior Health region has had a total of 515 positive cases since the start of the pandemic, 31 are active cases in hospital as of Wednesday, Sept. 23.

“We’re getting approximately four cases a day,” Goodison said.

“Only two per cent tested for symptoms compatible with COVID are positive.”

The highest risk is party environments, where food and beverages are shared and people are gathering in large groups.

Whereas the environmental transmission of COVID-19 on books and surfaces at schools is low, Goodison said.

Plus, local school districts are going above and beyond to clean and disinfect surfaces, having hired extra staff and putting extra control measures in place.

“Schools are safe places,” Vernon School District’s assistant director of HR Erica Schmidt said.

“I’m very confident that the schools are a safe place, not just for my kids but your kids as well,” Schmidt said, who is also a mother.

Vernon in particular has had few cases, 21 in total between January and July 31.

READ MORE: Four more cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health

“For children and youth, they aren’t as high risk as adults are,” said Schmidt. “Less than one per cent of children tested in B.C. have been COVID-19 positive so we know that it impacts adults more than children.”

When it comes to young children, some of the rules are a little different. For example, social distancing becomes more difficult with young kids, as well as enforcing masks, which is why masks are only mandatory for Grades 6-12.

A younger child may not be able to put a mask on and take it off appropriately, Goodison explained.

“If a mask is there and bothering them they are actually going to touch their face more and increase the risk of transmission.”

Yet, many young students are still wearing masks, as Vernon School District superintendent Joe Rogers saw on a recent bus ride along.

“Every kid, even the little ones, were wearing masks,” Rogers said, adding the district encourages all students to wear masks on the bus and in spaces where social distancing is not possible such as hallways and cafeterias.

A few of the other changes include not using lockers in high schools, cohorts (maximums of 60 in elementary schools and 120 for high schools), the Copernican or quarterly system, portable hand washing stations at portables, cleaning and sanitizing buses between routes and hiring more custodial staff to clean and disinfect schools. Such control measures could remain commonplace for the entire school year.

“We will likely be in this until next September,” Rogers said.

Goodison echoed the superintendent’s remarks.

“We anticipate making this our new normal,” she said. “We may change in three months time and that’s because we are learning.”

Approximately 95 per cent of students returned to school this year while there was increase to VLearn (online education).

“About 400 more kids have signed up for VLearn than last year,” said Rogers, noting 10 teachers were added to support the increase.

READ MORE: Majority of students back in Vernon classrooms


@VernonNews
jennifer@vernonmorningstar.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

CoronavirusSchools

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

Most students heading back to class are wearing masks, some because they are mandated, and others by choice. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)

Most students heading back to class are wearing masks, some because they are mandated, and others by choice. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)

Just Posted

Deb White, carnival chairwoman, rode in on style Saturday during the parade. (Caitlin Clow - Vernon Morning Star)
Pandemic postpones parade, heart of Vernon Winter Carnival

Interior Health says no to one of B.C.’s only winter parades

An elementary school student misplaced their glucose monitoring device for diabetes and his family and teachers are hoping someone maybe picked it up. (Dexcom)
UPDATE: Vernon student’s missing medical device found

Receiver used to monitor diabetes believed left in snowbank at school

The revitalization of Polson Park is one of the many projects that come to council’s mind that could benefit from the Fortis BC Legacy Fund. (Debbie Gibson photo)
Vernon council considers use of $13M ‘legacy’

Fortis BC Legacy Fund to be discussed further in special meeting of council

Lindsay Palmateer, a Salmon Arm mother of six, succumbed to her injuries after a serious crash Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021, south of Enderby. (Contributed)
‘She was everyone’s caretaker’: Salmon Arm mother of six remembered

GoFundMe campaign exceeds goal already for family involved in deadly crash near Enderby

Canadian author Paul Young, who wrote the critically acclaimed novel, the Shack, will join Vernon-based foundation, the Emily Dahl Foundation, for a Fireside Chat event in June 2021. (YouTube)
Bestselling author to be keynote presenter at Vernon event

The Shack author Paul Young to join with Emily Dahl Foundation for summer Fireside Chat

Brett Forsythe battles it out in a game of singles pickleball on ice at Okanagan Training Rink Thursday, Jan. 7 in support of the Vernon Food Bank. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)
Pickleball play hits the ice in Okanagan

Rivals battle it out in support of the food bank

Martin Luther King Jr. addresses the crowd during the march on Washington, D.C., in August of 1963. Courtesy photo
Government announces creation of B.C.’s first anti-racism act on Black Shirt Day

B.C. Ministers say education “a powerful tool” in the fight for equity and equality

With a second case of COVID-19 confirmed at South Canoe Elementary, parents were advised Thursday, Jan. 14, that the school could be closed for a week or so. (Contributed)
Closure considered after four cases of COVID-19 identified at Salmon Arm school

South Canoe Elementary principal grateful for concern and support shown by public

Jobs Minister Ravi Kahlon shared a handwritten note his son received on Jan. 13, 2021. (Ravi Kahlon/Twitter)
Proud dad moment: B.C. minister’s son, 10, receives handwritten note for act of kindness

North Delta MLA took to Twitter to share a letter his son received from a new kid at school

Phase 4 of the Kicking Horse Canyon Project is on track, despite COVID-19 and the recent provincial election. (Government of BC photo)
Kicking Horse Canyon Phase 4 closures announced

The first major closures are expected to occur starting on April 12 until May 14

Black Press media file
Port McNeill driver tells police he thought the pandemic meant no breathalyzers

Suspect facing criminal charges after breathalyzer readings in excess of 3.5 times the legal limit

Megan Freedman’s music video for Perfect was shot at the Lindon House on Ethel Street. (Perfect - Megan Freedman)
Kelowna musician’s anti-bullying anthem receives international award

The music video was shot at Kelowna’s Lindon House

Forestry companies in B.C. agree to abide by the cedar protocols based on traditional laws of the First Nation members of the Nanwakolas Council. (Photo courtesy, Nanwakolas Council)
Landmark deal sees B.C. forest firms treat big cedars like a First Nation would

Western Forest Products, Interfor among companies to adapt declaration drafted by Nanwakolas Council

A northern resident killer whale shows injuries sustained by a collision with a vessel in B.C. waters. (Photo supplied by Ocean Wise Conservation Association)
Coast Guard ramps up protections for B.C. whales

First-ever Marine Mammal Desk will enhance cetacean reporting and enforcement

Most Read