West Kelowna  

West Kelowna mother frustrated with lack of information on COVID-19 in her child's school

Mom feeling 'let down'

A West Kelowna mother is feeling "let down" over a lack of communication from Interior Health after she believes her son contracted COVID-19 in the classroom.

Olivia Perrin says her family woke up sick on Thursday, Dec. 2, leading her to keep her eight-year-old son home from school at Glenrosa Elementary.

That’s when her son mentioned his classmate and friend also had COVID-19.

“I was like, ‘what now?’” Perrin said, baffled she was learning this from her child and not the school or Interior Health.

Perrin said she confirmed with the other boy’s mother that her son’s friend did indeed have COVID-19 and was in class for two days before being pulled out because of the positive tests within the home.

Perrin’s eight-year-old son has since tested positive for the virus. Perrin tested negative. She said she has also learned that a teaching assistant from the school also tested positive around the same time.

“So there were two positive cases at the school, and nobody was informed,” Perrin said.

Because she works at a seniors care home, Perrin says she has been very careful throughout the pandemic and would have appreciated a warning.

A notice that there was COVID-19 was in her son’s class would not have prevented her son from catching the virus, but would have helped them act accordingly.

“I wouldn't have sent [my son] to the parkour class that he goes to on Wednesday nights, and now he potentially spread it to all those kids… I wouldn’t have gone into work and potentially put those vulnerable seniors at risk,” she continued.

When Perrin complained to the school’s principal, she was told Interior Health sets policy as to when exposure notifications are issued.

On Monday, the Nov. 26 exposure where Perrin’s son ostensibly contracted COVID-19 was still not listed on Interior Health’s website.

That changed after Castanet contacted the health authority for comment.

Glenrosa Elementary now lists exposure dates for Nov. 25/26, 29/30 and Dec. 1. Fourteen other schools in the Central Okanagan have active exposures.

In a statement to Castanet, Interior Health said schools are “prioritized” for contact tracing.

“Any confirmed cases and anyone who has been exposed will be directly notified through contact tracing. If there is a cluster, the whole class is notified via letter,” Interior Health said.

A cluster is defined as “two or more confirmed cases of COVID-19 that occur among students and/or staff within a 14-day period, and isolated transmission is suspected or confirmed to have occurred within the school.”

The health authority did not explain why Perrin did not receive notification of the exposure. IH said the website notifications system is designed as a “secondary resource” to give a general sense of virus activity in schools.

“They are not part of direct public health follow-up on confirmed cases and website postings will take place after individuals are aware they have COVID-19 and contact tracing has already happened,” IH said.

With child vaccinations now rolling out, IH said it is expected COVID-19 transmission in the classroom will gradually subside.

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