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For school communities – Kindergarten to Grade 12

With a rising rate of vaccination throughout Vancouver Coastal Health (VCH) communities, students can participate in full-time, in-person learning, and resume sports, music and other extracurricular activities, while Daily Health Checks and other health and safety measures remain in place to keep schools safe.

Schools are low-risk environments for the transmission of COVID-19. A study of data collected within the VCH region confirmed that children (ages 0 to 18) are at low risk of catching and spreading COVID-19, and that school-based transmission is uncommon.

This is good news, since schools play an essential role in learning and development for many children. Research by the BC Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC) last year noted a significant impact on students from restrictive measures and remote learning, including interrupted learning, increased child stress, decreased connection, increased loneliness and mental and emotional health effects.

Schools and child care centres can be operated safely by following public health safety measures and guidelines. These include daily health checks, staying home when sick, using all available space, practicing excellent hand washing, good cough and sneeze etiquette and appropriate cleaning and disinfection. Learn more about COVID-19 prevention.

Screening

Parents and guardians should assess their child daily for key symptoms of illness before sending them to school. To support daily screening, a K-12 health-checker app has been developed for students and their families to inform them if they can attend school or if they need to self-isolate and call 8-1-1 to be screened for COVID-19.

Use the K-12 health-checker app

Testing

With school in session, we anticipate more children may require COVID-19 testing. We want parents and children to understand when testing is required and to feel prepared when they come to our sites for a test.

Learn more about testing for children

Contact tracing

Case and contact follow-up continue to play an important role in VCH's COVID-19 response.

VCH Public Health conducts an investigation and risk assessment for every case of COVID-19 in our region. When a school community member receives a positive COVID-19 test, Public Health will notify the case of their test result and determine who they were in contact with while they were infectious (including at school). 

Guidance is specific to each particular exposure. Higher risk contacts (e.g., unvaccinated contacts living within the case's household) may be asked to self-isolate. Lower risk contacts may be asked to self-monitor.

If you are a close contact of a person who has COVID-19 and you have not been fully immunized, you may need to self-isolate for 10 days since you last had contact with this person. Public Health will help you decide based on your vaccination status, the dates you were vaccinated, and whether you have had COVID-19 in the past. They will use this information to guide you on which steps you need to take to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

If you are not contacted by VCH Public Health, no additional action is required. Continue to do daily health checks, and stay home if you feel sick.

Exposure notifications

When a school staff member or student is confirmed to be a COVID-19 case, those individuals who are required to take new action, such as self-isolate, will be notified directly and provided guidance by Public Health.  Those who have not been contacted by Public Health are not required to take additional actions, but like everyone, are to self-monitor for COVID-19 symptoms and complete their Daily Health Check prior to coming to school/work. 

If members of the school community learn of a new case (e.g., through the individual sharing this information with others directly or more broadly), please continue to respect their privacy and support a welcoming environment when they return to school.

Frequently asked questions 

Public Health is notified of every case of COVID-19 in our region as soon as a test is complete. The Public Health teams then complete an investigation, 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 will ensure that all close contacts are notified and provided with appropriate instructions.

 

No. The current school COVID-19 safety plans decrease the amount of exposure and transmission risk in schools and have been helpful in preventing exposures. Often, the amount of time a student or staff member diagnosed with COVID-19 may have spent in school while infectious is limited thanks to daily health checks and staying home when sick, or because they’ve been identified as a close contact of someone with COVID-19 and have been at home self-isolating during their infectious period.

 

No. Exposures occur when a case of COVID-19 was present in school during their infectious period. In the vast majority of cases, there is no transmission in the school setting. The majority of COVID-19 transmission is within households and social networks outside of school.

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

  • Public Health investigates to identify contacts within the school.

  • 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. 

  • Lower-risk contacts (including any vaccinated contacts) may be asked to self-monitor. This may apply to an individual or to an entire class. 

  • Public Health monitors the class and school.

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

 

When Public Health receives notification of a positive test result, Public Health immediately begins contact tracing. Investigations are typically complete within 24 hours. However, because the person with COVID-19 is usually already self-isolating and not attending school, the last exposure may be several days ago. If your family is not contacted by Public Health, no further action is required. Continue to do a Daily Health Check and stay home if you are sick.

 

Self-isolation is recommended for individuals who have tested positive for COVID-19 and their unvaccinated close contacts. Self-isolation means staying home and avoiding situations where you could come into contact with others, even if you don’t have symptoms. This is to prevent transmission of COVID-19. Those who need to self-isolate are contacted directly by Public Health. If you have not been contacted, you do not need to self-isolate. More information about self-isolation can be found on the BCCDC website.

 

Self-monitoring means monitoring yourself daily for symptoms of COVID-19, and is recommended for lower risk contacts (e.g. casual non-household contacts and those who have been vaccinated). However, COVID-19 is circulating in our communities. Everyone should monitor themselves for symptoms of COVID-19 every day. Those who are sick should stay home.

 

If possible, the rest of the family should minimize contact with the person who is self-isolating. Those who need to self-isolate are contacted directly by Public Health. If the affected child’s family has not been contacted and asked to self-isolate, they can continue with their usual activities and continue to self-monitor for symptoms.

 

You should seek assessment and testing, and self-isolate while you wait for your test results.

 

No. When a school staff member or student is confirmed to be a COVID-19 case, those individuals who are required to take new action, such as self-isolate, will be notified directly and provided guidance by Public Health. Those who have not been contacted by Public Health are not required to take additional actions, but like everyone, are to self-monitor for COVID-19 symptoms and complete their Daily Health Check prior to coming to school/work.

If members of the school community learn of a new case (e.g., through the individual sharing this information with others directly or more broadly), please continue to respect their privacy and support a welcoming environment when they return to school.

 

In order to maintain privacy and confidentiality, Public Health does not disclose any names or identifying information about cases or contacts within the school community.

 

Public Health conducts an investigation and risk assessment for every case of COVID-19 and every school exposure. Recommendations are specific to each particular exposure. Unvaccinated close contacts are asked to self-isolate. Lower risk or vaccinated contacts may be asked to self-monitor. 

 

COVID-19 is circulating in our communities, and approximately 120,000 students and school staff members live in our region. Where there is COVID-19 in a community, we can expect cases of COVID-19 among students and staff. However, there are extensive measures in place to prevent exposures and transmission within schools. These include COVID-19 safety plans, and daily health checks for staff and students. 

 


SOURCE: For school communities – Kindergarten to Grade 12 ( )
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