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An entire elementary school in Vancouver was issued a COVID-19 exposure notice

The exposure was issued for Grades Kindergarten through 7, Divisions 1 - 25.
Vancouver Coastal Health has issued a COVID-19 exposure warning for an entire elementary school. Photo: Tube containing a swab sample that has tested positive for COVID-19/Shutterstock

Vancouver Coastal Health has issued a coronavirus (COVID-19) exposure warning for an entire elementary school.

The regional health authority is notifying parents and guardians at Lord Strathcona Elementary School of a (COVID-19) exposure in Grades Kindergarten through 7, Divisions 1 - 25.

The notification letter states that the exposure dates are March 9, 10 and 11. However, VCH notes that "the current safety plans in our schools, when followed correctly, are very effective at preventing transmission." 

Public Health is currently working with the school to identify close contacts among staff and students. If you don't receive a call from public health, your risk of exposure is "considered low" and you are not advised to self-isolate, adds VCH.

However, since new illness may occur up to 14 days after exposure, VCH recommends that you monitor for signs of illness until March 25. 

A spokesperson for the Vancouver School Board tells Vancouver Is Awesome in an emailed statement that the Vancouver School District follows the direction of its local public health authority.

"Families at Lord Strathcona Elementary school were provided with a letter confirming a single member of the school community tested positive for COVID-19, and that the potential exposure is considered low-risk by VCH. Out of an abundance of caution, Vancouver Coastal Health is asking students and staff to self-monitor until March 25 at the latest. As indicated in the school letter, recall self-monitoring for COVID-19 symptoms is what public health asks everyone in B.C. to do. Vancouver Coastal Health will continue to monitor the school.

 "The health, safety and well-being of students, families and staff remains the Vancouver School District’s highest priority."

COVID-19 school notification process

Public Health is notified of every case of COVID-19 in the VCH region as soon as a test is complete. The Public Health teams then complete an investigation, typically within 24 hours, to identify all individuals the case was in contact with and all locations of potential exposures during their infectious period.

If a case (staff or student) identifies attendance in a school during their infectious period, Public Health investigates and coordinates with the school to ensure that all contacts are notified and provided with appropriate instructions.

If a case attended school while they were infectious and there was a risk of transmission within the school:

  1. Public Health investigates to identify contacts within the school.

  2. Public Health directly contacts anyone who was a close contact of the case, and asks them to self-isolate.  This may apply to an individual or an entire class or cohort.

  3. Lower-risk contacts may be asked to self-monitor. This may apply to an individual, or to an entire class or cohort. 

  4. Public Health closely monitors the class, division, cohort and school.

  5. Updates to recommendations are directly communicated with those who are affected. 

V.I.A. has reached out to Vancouver Coastal Health for comment.