Multiqued Journalist, CTV News Vancouver
Surrey, B.C. – –
Rapid tests will be performed after the faster moving variant of COVID-19 is discovered in seven schools in the Fraser Health area.
So far, five public schools and one independent school in Surrey and one public school in Delta have been affected.
According to Fraser Health, all cases of variant B.1.7.7 are being investigated and to date most appear to be related to community broadcasts.
“Only those employees and students who have been identified as close contacts need to be tested and contacted. The schools remain open, ”wrote the health authority in a press release.
According to the Surrey School District, 10 classes of students and 50 staff had to self-isolate for a total of 293 people.
« Fraser Health has taken exceptional measures to isolate as many classes as possible and I think this is a good precaution, but I’m like everyone else, of course I’m nervous, » said Jordan Tinney, superintendent of Surrey Schools.
Tinney says concerned and students and staff will be given rapid tests. The results are expected on Wednesday.
He believes these results will be a good indicator of whether current health and safety protocols are working or whether they need to be ramped up to combat the rapidly spreading variants.
« I think it’s about the unknown. We have COVID and we put all of these things in and then you have a variant and you just don’t know, » Tinney told CTV News.
“Once it reaches the house, it can spread like wildfire. There is great concern in our parenting community about this variant, ”said Cindy Dalglish, President of the Parents’ Council (PAC).
Dalglish is confident that the school and district are doing everything they can to protect the community, but would like a stronger mask mandate, especially in elementary schools.
Your PAC has been handing out masks to students to encourage them to wear them as often as possible, but is demanding stricter rules from the provincial health officer.
According to Dalglish, Surrey is particularly vulnerable to COVID-19 because of its dense population and high number of vital workers and multi-generational families.
She would like a more regional approach to school enforcement, where districts can create guidelines based on their own needs.
« There are certainly some people who think the school should be closed and everyone should go distance learning for the next three weeks until spring break. I think that should be a tool that will be used more often, » said President Matt Westphal.
Westphal would like to see capacity reductions in schools to allow greater distancing as exposure increases, especially given the speed at which the new variants are spreading.
According to Fraser Health, the variant strain is faster and easier to transfer, but does not appear to cause more serious illness or affect the effectiveness of vaccines.
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