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Fraser Health issues 19 new COVID-19 exposure notices in Surrey Schools

The update sets a record high number of exposure notices handed out in a single day for Surrey schools. 
Photo: @Fraserhealth / Twitter

The Surrey School District is reporting a staggering number of coronavirus (COVID-19) exposures, with notices issued to 19 schools.

The latest update, issued Nov. 20, sets a record high number of exposure notices handed out in a day for the city's schools. 

In a Tweet, Surrey schools states that "Notices [were] shared with Earl Marriott, LA Matheson, Fraser Heights, North Surrey, N. Surrey LC, Clayton Heights, Semiahmoo, Sullivan Heights, Crescent Park, Henry Bose, Bonaccord, Berkshire Park, James Ardiel, Prince Charles, Holly, Rosemary Heights, Katzie, Hazelgrove, Martha Currie."

COVID-19 in Schools Schools

Reports circulating on social media also indicate that Fraser Health is getting "more aggressive" with its tactics in Surrey Schools and may order a class and teacher to self-isolate in the future. Teachers are reportedly asked to bring home their devices and chargers daily, and create a contingency plan for teaching remotely. 

Ritinder Matthew, Manager of Communication Services with Surrey Schools, tells Vancouver Is Awesome in an email that she can't confirm what school the rumours reference. However, she notes that "we are all navigating through unprecedented times and planning for potential disruptions to our regular school days is always important."

Last weekend, Fraser Health declared an outbreak at one of Surrey's schools. All staff and students at this school were required to self-isolate for a two-week period, which can pose a challenge for the continuation of instruction as some staff did not have the technology and resources to teach from home, nor were they able to obtain resources from their classrooms, explains Matthew.

"The district was able to support in this instance, but moving forward some of our schools may be being proactive and planning for potential disruptions."

Aletta Vanderheyden, Senior Consultant of Public Affairs with Fraser Health, tells V.I.A. in an email that the health authority continues to work with each school to assess their needs on a one-by-one basis when they have a COVID-19 exposure or case at their school.  

"Actions vary depending on the risk assessment undertaken for each case of COVID-19 in staff and students. This can include recommending self-isolation for a few staff or students, or for larger groups," writes Vanderheyden

 "More conservative or aggressive measures such as school closures have been rare and are undertaken if the closure can help to break any suspected chains of transmission occurring within schools.

"There are instances where a number of staff and students have been sent home to the point where schools advise Fraser Health they may need to close due to operational constraints, which is called a 'functional closure'."

COVID-19 school notification process:

If a student or teacher receives a confirmed positive COVID-19 test result, Public Health follows a rigorous protocol:

  • Contact tracing is initiated to determine how the individual was infected and who they were in close contact with.
  • We identify and notify close contacts who may be at an increased risk, and advise them to self-isolate and monitor for symptoms for 14 days.
  • Only Public Health can determine who is a close contact. Learning groups, friends or other connections may not be determined to be a close contact.
  • Public Health staff works closely with the school and school district throughout the case and contact management process to maintain close communication with the school community.

At any time, if you or your child develop any symptoms of COVID-19, please seek testing and then self-isolate.

If you or your child have been identified as a COVID-19 positive case or close contact, be assured that Fraser Health’s Public Health team will contact you directly and provide further instruction.

For information about exposures at schools outside of the Fraser Health region, visit BCCDC's Public Exposures page

--With files from the Canadian Press.