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North Van, West Van school exposures dropping after record-breaking month

After a month in which COVID cases in schools reached the highest level ever on the North Shore, the number of exposures in the past two weeks is now notably dropping.
Blueridge elementary sign
Several classes at Blueridge Elementary recently received COVID exposure letters, including a kindergarten class told to self-isolate. But overall school exposures are dropping.

After a month in which COVID cases in schools reached the highest level ever on the North Shore, the number of exposures in the past two weeks is now notably dropping.

The recent drop in exposure letters comes after a month in which schools on the North Shore sent out 113 notices about possible exposure to the virus, said Coralynn Gehl, who runs a local Facebook site where parents post notices they’ve received and swap information.

“The second or third week of April, they were really, really high. But then they just dropped off really quickly,” said Gehl.

The spike in North Shore school exposures in April mirrored the highest ever weekly case counts for new infections being recorded in the community at over 300 cases a week.

In the past two weeks, however, those numbers have dropped to about half that level.

“I felt that last couple of weeks of April, I was hearing a lot less about gatherings that shouldn't be happening,” said Gehl.

Cases decline in May

North Vancouver schools superintendent Mark Pearmain had a similar message for trustees at the most recent public board meeting. “We have certainly started to see at this point in time a plateau and also now a decline in the number of cases, but also exposure letters that we are seeing in our schools,” said Pearmain.

Vaccinations for teachers and staff are also underway in both North and West Vancouver schools. That has had the effect of reducing “quite a bit of angst within our system,” said Pearmain.

The dropping number of exposure letters doesn’t mean schools are completely out of the woods.

Kindergarten class isolating

One kindergarten class at Blueridge Elementary, for instance, was recently told to self-isolate after an exposure there. Several other classes in the school were also told to monitor themselves after being exposed to the virus. But the number of exposures is down substantially so far in May.

In North Vancouver, since the beginning of the school year, only two schools have escaped receiving any exposure notices, said Pearmain.

Nine schools account for over 60 per cent of school exposures, said Pearmain. They are: Argyle, Carson Graham, Handsworth, Sutherland and Windsor secondary schools and Seymour Heights, Braemar, Carisbrooke and Upper Lynn elementary schools.

Pfizer vaccine approved for teenagers

This week, Health Canada announced the Pfizer vaccine has now been approved for use in teenagers down to age 12. Dr. Bonnie Henry, the province’s medical health officer, said she hopes to announce soon how and when teenagers will be included in the province’s vaccination plans. She hinted it’s possible teens may even get a first dose of the vaccine before the end of the school year.

Recent exposure notices in North Shore schools:

West Vancouver

Rockridge Secondary: Law 12 and engineering 11 classes exposed April 22, 23, 26-30 and May 3-4. Senior textiles 10-12 class and lit studies 11 class exposed April 27, 29, 30 and May 3. Life Sciences 11 and Lit Studies 11 classes exposed May 3 and 4.

Mulgrave private school: A Grade 9 class was exposed April 20.

Collingwood private school: A Grade 11 class was exposed April 19 and 20. A Grade 10 class was exposed May 4 and 5

Hollyburn Elementary: Exposure reported in Hollyburn StrongStart program May 10.

Chartwell Elementary: A kindergarten class was exposed April 26.

Westcot Elementary: A Grade 3 class was exposed prior to April 25.

Saint Anthony’s private school reported an exposure in a Grade 1 class April 22 and 23.

North Vancouver

Argyle Secondary May 7 notice of an exposure April 30 and May 4. One Grade 11/12 creative writing (a.m.) class directed to self-monitor. An exposure was reported April 22 for classes of band 9 and math 9.

Handsworth Secondary: A Grade 8 art class and Grade 11 physics class were exposed April 16.

Sutherland Secondary. Two positive cases resulted in a Grade 8 PE and a Grade 11 math class being exposed April 26.

Seycove Secondary Two grade 8 classes, drama 8 and French 8 were exposed April 23 and 26.

Carson Graham Secondary. A PE 8 and social studies 8 class was exposed April 21, 22, 23 and 27. A Grade 11 Spanish class was told to self-isolate after being exposed April 19 and 20 while a Grade 11 pre calculus class was exposed April 20.

Windsor Secondary. Students in concert band 9were told to self isolate after being exposed April 13 – 16 and 19. Students in intermediate jazz band and PE 9 classes were exposed April 16 and 19. Students in art 11 / 12 were exposed April 13 to 16. Students in Spanish 9 were exposed April 13 and 15. Students in intermediate jazz band 9/10 were exposed April 16. Students in social studies11 were exposed April 16 and 19. Students in earth sciences 11 and math 9 were exposed April 16.

St Thomas Aquinas private school. A class was exposed May 3 and 4.

Bodwell private high school. Exposures were reported April 16 and between April 19 and 21.

Cousteau International School reported an exposure May 5.

Blueridge Elementary. Several classes at the elementary school were exposed. A kindergarten class has been told to self-isolate after being exposed April 26 to 29. Other classes including a Grade 2/3 class and Grade 3 / 4 class exposed April 28 and 29 and a Grade 5 / 6 class exposed April 14 to 16. Students have been told to monitor for symptoms.

Seymour Heights Elementary reported an exposure to the virus in its Strongstart program April 26.

Upper Lynn Elementary. A Grade 2 class was exposed April 22.

Queensbury Elementary: Two positive cases resulted in exposures in three classes, including Grade 2 / 3 class, and Grade 5 / 6 class and a continuing band class on April 13-16 and 19-21.

Capilano Elementary. A Grade 3 class was told to self-isolate after being exposed April 13, 14, 15 and 19.

Braemar Elementary: A Grade 6/7 class was exposed April 14, 15 and 16.

Andre Piolat French school reported an exposure in a Grade 4 class April 22.

Eastview Elementary. A class was exposed April 30.A Kindergarten class was exposed April 19

Highlands Elementary. A Kindergarten class was exposed April 15 and 16.