It’s status quo for Kamloops-Thompson school district operations after two people at Westsyde secondary tested positive for COVID-19 — the second such exposure in Kamloops schools to date, occurring less than a month apart.
Interim superintendent Terry Sullivan said the school district is providing Interior Health with all information it needs to conduct contact tracing and may have more to say on Thursday (Dec. 3) regarding that work.
This second exposure in a Kamloops school doesn’t change the district’s response to COVID-19 and schools continue to follow the health and safety guidelines provided by the provincial health officer, Sullivan told KTW.
The Westsyde exposure follows one at NorKam senior secondary that occurred in a student or staff member who was at the school on Friday, Nov. 6.
“The only time we would take different steps is if the Ministry of Health tells us to take different steps,” Sullivan said.
Interior Health’s Kamloops-based medical health officer, Dr. Carol Fenton, said even in the event an outbreak, the health authority would try to avoid measures such as closing the school and opt for alternatives such as having a grade or cohort isolate.
Cases are listed as exposures (an infected person was in a school, so there is potential for transmission), clusters (more than one case grouped together in space or time has been found) and outbreaks (there is uncontrolled transmission occurring — multiple cases that are connected, but it’s not clear how the virus is passing between them).
The Westsyde cases were reported on Tuesday (Dec. 1), a week after the exposure occurred, in a letter to parents sent out by the school principal warning “a member of the Westsyde Secondary school community” tested positive for COVID-19 and is at home self-isolating.
In a letter posted to the school district’s website on Wednesday, Sullivan noted two people at the school had tested positive.
Those found to have been in close contact with the individual will receive a call from the health authority and told to self-isolate while all others are deemed to not be at risk of contracting the virus and encouraged to attend school while public health continues contact tracing.
According to the BC Centre for Disease Control website, the potential exposure at Westsyde secondary took place over four days between Tuesday, Nov. 24, and Friday, Nov. 27.
Fenton said laboratories will flag positive cases that arise in students and staff, leading to phone calls to the infected from public health to determine when symptoms started and if they attended school during their infectious period, followed by the contact tracing process.
A press release form the school district, issued on Wednesday, said it is in the midst of performing contact tracing to determine if anyone in the school is a close contact that is required to self-isolate.
“Only the Interior Health can determine who is a close contact,” the district’s release pointed out.
In the meantime, parents and guardians are advised to let their children attend school while contact tracing is underway, while continuing daily health checks.
More information about how Kamloops-Thompson schools are dealing with COIVD-19 can be found here:
NorKam exposure no longer active
An exposure to COVID-19 at Norkam senior secondary is no longer active, with no one other than the initial case having contracted the virus.
The exposure apparently ended around Nov. 20 as that was 14 days following the initial exposure date of Nov. 6. with no new reported cases, so the notice was removed online.
A letter to parents notifying them of the exposure wasn’t issued until Nov. 14. It stated “a member of the NorKam school community” tested positive for the disease.
Interior Health told KTW it won’t provide case counts specific to schools, but said there was no transmission involved in the NorKam exposure, indicating only one person contracted COVID-19.
Meanwhile, an outbreak at The Hamlets assisted-living facility in Westsyde was limited to a single staff member and was declared over last week. The outbreak was declared on Nov. 6 and ended after 14 days without any new cases being reported.