Concerns prompt B.C. to return to notifying schools, parents about COVID exposures

School virus alerts to resume

British Columbia is reversing course on notifying parents about COVID-19 exposures at schools after the provincial health officer previously said reporting of single cases caused too much anxiety.

Dr. Bonnie Henry said Tuesday that parents and teachers from across the province have let it be known they need to be informed about the transmission of the virus and that a new system is expected to be in place by the end of the week.

"We have asked our team to get together right now to make sure that we can notify schools in a timely, less intrusive and more sustainable way and that parents will have access to that information rapidly," she said.

Henry said in early September that notifications would go out only for outbreaks or clusters, prompting parents and the B.C. Teachers' Federation to say that not having an understanding of what's going on at schools would create more anxiety.

An online "COVID tracker'' page created last year by Richmond mother Kathy Marliss includes data based on exposure and case information submitted by teachers, parents and administrators. She has said parents, teachers and students would be better served if the data came directly from the province.

Henry said parents of students who have been exposed to COVID-19 would be notified but that following up on each case could take longer than expected as public health teams prioritize schools in order to keep youth learning there.

B.C. reported 525 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday, moving active cases up to 5,282. One more person has died, bringing the death toll to 1,900 since the pandemic began.

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