Hope Secondary School. (Emelie Peacock/Hope Standard)

Third COVID-19 exposure at Hope Secondary Nov. 24

School district has lowest rates of exposure in all of Lower Mainland: superintendent

A third COVID-19 exposure has happened at Hope Secondary School, superintendent of schools Balan Moorthy confirmed Wednesday.

Moorthy said the exposure happened Tuesday, Nov. 24, making it the third exposure at the school since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite these three exposures and one at Agassiz Elementary Secondary School, Moorthy said the Fraser Cascade School District is seeing the lowest rates of COVID-19 exposures in the entire Lower Mainland and Fraser Valley.

An exposure is defined by Fraser Health as a “single person with [a] lab-confirmed COVID-19 infection who attended school during their infectious period.”

When a student or teacher is confirmed positive, the health authority begins contact tracing to find out how they person was infected and who they were in close contact with. Close contacts who may be at increased risk are notified and advised to self-isolate or self-monitor for symptoms of COVID-19 for two weeks.

People in the same learning cohort, friends or other contacts may be determined by public health not to be close contacts. And for families who receive notifications of exposures at their school, Fraser Health advises that this does not mean their child has been exposed to COVID-19. “If you do not receive a phone call or letter from Public Health, your child should continue to attend school,” Fraser Health stated, adding that families can monitor their child for symptoms using a self-assessment tool found at bc.thrive.health.

Hope Secondary School has had COVID-19 exposures on Oct. 30, Nov. 12 and 13 and on Nov. 24. This latest exposure is not yet listed on Fraser Health’s school exposure website. Agassiz Elementary reported a COVID-19 exposure on Nov. 4, 5 and 6.

So far these exposures have not resulted in transmission to other students Moorthy said. The first two exposures came from students having participated in activities or events outside of their schools. And none of the school district’s elementary schools or Boston Bar Elementary Secondary School have been affected.

Moorthy could not speak about specific cases due to confidentiality, adding that “we probably have the lowest rates of COVID in the entire the Lower Mainland right now. Not just the Lower Mainland, but even the entire Fraser Valley and probably moving up in the Interior.”

“We have very few cases, our schools have done an exceptional job, their principals have done exceptional jobs providing safe places for kids, and we continue to maintain that the best place that kids can be right now is in school,” Moorthy said. He is, however, worried about the loss of learning and the emotional health of children, something he elaborated on during a Nov. 17 school board meeting.

The number of students not attending in-class instruction full time has gone from 237 to 176 across the school district he said at the meeting. Those not in class could be either transitioning back to classes by the latest end of November (option 2 outlined earlier this fall by SD78), continuing online learning through the Western Canadian Learning Network and monitored by a classroom teacher (option 3) or families opting to homeschool (option 4).

Moorthy referenced a letter sent to families whose children were in option 2, about making a decision on whether to return to in class learning. “The timing isn’t great” he acknowledged, yet the focus needs to be improving options for students as some of those in option 2 are not attending at all. “So by the end of November, into early December, students will either be in school, or we will be assigning them to a teacher who will help to monitor them online for the remainder of the school year.”

Moorthy said that any parents with concerns should contact him. The school district office can be reached at 604-869-2411.

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