A second Tri-Cities middle school in as many days has been flagged over a COVID-19 exposure — this time in Port Coquitlam.
Exposures at Port Coquitlam’s Pitt River middle school (2070 Tyner St.) are said to have occurred on Sept. 30 and Oct. 1.
The exposures mark the third school in School District 43 to be hit with an exposure to COVID-19. Yesterday, Fraser Health released exposure data for Como Lake middle school in Coquitlam. The first SD43 school to be flagged over an exposure was Riverside secondary in Port Coquitlam.
In a letter sent to parents and seen by the Tri-City News, a single individual has tested positive for the virus that causes COVID-19. Fraser Health added that it has initiated contact tracing to "rapidly identify any staff or students that need to self-isolate or self monitor for symptoms" and that staff and students may receive future correspondence to do so.
HERE'S WHAT HAPPENS WHEN A COVID-19 CASE IS REPORTED IN A SCHOOL
• If a student or staff member is lab confirmed to be a COVID-19 case, public health contact tracers will interview the person to determine how they were infected and who they had close contact with while infected.
• If the confirmed case was not infectious while at school, Fraser Health will not contact the school. However, if the person was infectious while attending school or it’s found they contracted the virus at school, health officials will inform the school administrator.
• Public health will then request cohort and bus lists, determine if there are any confirmed close contacts and, together with school administration, decide whether they will only tell staff, students and parents potentially exposed to the virus or whether the exposure will be announced more widely (i.e. through Fraser health’s school exposure page).
• Should there be a wider risk of exposure, an “early notification letter” will be sent to the school community identifying the school and any next steps that need to be taken. Individual students, families or classrooms will not be identified in order to preserve personal privacy, but those considered a close contact will be contacted by health authorities.
• If close contact between an infectious case and others at the school is confirmed, those contacts will be asked to self-isolate for 14 days from the last exposure.
• If you are one of those contacts and symptoms develop, seek testing. However, if no symptoms develop, you can return to school after the isolation period.
• If you are not contacted by health authorities, it has been determined that your child is not at risk of developing COVID-19 and your child may continue to attend school.
• Continue to do daily health checks before school.
Families should also note that an “exposure” does not mean the affected person picked up the infection at school.
The Fraser Health website notes that an “exposure” means the case involves a single person with a lab-confirmed COVID-19 infection who attended school during their infectious period.
Two other levels of notification are also possible but have not been issued in these two cases. A “cluster” would denote two or more people with lab-confirmed COVID-19 infections who attended school during the infectious period; the cases may be linked to school-based transmission.
An “outbreak,” meanwhile, would indicate multiple people with lab-confirmed COVID-19 infection when transmission is likely widespread within the school setting.
In all of those cases, public health takes charge of investigating the case and conducting contact tracing.
More information about SD43 updated health and safety protocols can be found here: STAGE 2 HEALTH AND SAFETY PROTOCOLS: K-12 FOR PARENTS.