A crossing guard stops traffic as students wearing face masks to curb the spread of COVID-19 arrive at Ecole Woodward Hill Elementary School, in Surrey, B.C., on Tuesday, February 23, 2021. A number of schools in the Fraser Health region, including Woodward Hill, have reported cases of the B.1.7.7 COVID-19 variant first detected in the U.K. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

A crossing guard stops traffic as students wearing face masks to curb the spread of COVID-19 arrive at Ecole Woodward Hill Elementary School, in Surrey, B.C., on Tuesday, February 23, 2021. A number of schools in the Fraser Health region, including Woodward Hill, have reported cases of the B.1.7.7 COVID-19 variant first detected in the U.K. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

COVID-infected students in Lower Mainland schools transmitting to 1 to 2 others: data

Eight to 13 per cent of COVID cases among students in the Lower Mainland were acquired in schools, B.C. says

Students who transmit COVID in Lower Mainland schools are spreading the virus to just one or two other children at school, a report from the B.C. government says.

In document released Thursday (April 15), data showed the province believes that the majority of cases in schools are not acquired there but simply reflect the rate of community transmission. Schools in B.C. have remained open since September, unlike jurisdictions like Ontario and Calgary that have shut them down.

Officials said that teachers and staff across the province would be immunized in the coming weeks. Teachers in Surrey have already received their vaccines.

Pre-school children make up 4.41 per cent of the population and 2.07 per cent of cases; children ages five to 12 make up 7.65 per cent of the population and 5.37 per cent of cases; teens age 13 to 18 make up 6.16 per cent of the population and 6.23 per cent of cases.

The province’s two studies look at two time periods: in Vancouver Coastal Health, the study looked at school transmissions from September until winter break in December, and in Fraser Health from January until March 7.

Vancouver Coastal Health

Overall during that time period, 8,746 cases were reported in Vancouver Coastal Health. Of those about eight per cent, or 699, were students, teachers and staff. That means that of the total 124,000 students, teachers and staff in Vancouver Coastal Health, about 0.5 per cent of them were infected with COVID.

Of those cases, 77 per cent were among students while 23 per cent were among teachers and other staff.

The province’s data showed that eight per cent, or 55, of total cases were “likely acquired in school.”

Fraser Health

Overall during the time period (Jan- March 7) when Fraser Health was studied, the region reported a total of 16,053 cases. With 2,049 students, teachers and staff being infected with COVID-19, that made up about 12 per cent of total cases in Fraser Health.

Of those cases, the province said 83 per cent were among students and 17 per cent were among teachers and other staff.

Of the 2,049, about 13 per cent, or 267 cases, were “likely acquired in school.”

The province said that when transmission did take place at schools, each case would typically lead to one other case.

Data too old, teachers’ union says

While the president of the union representing B.C.’s teachers said it’s good to see some school data on COVID-19 transmission, it’s still coming months too late.

That’s according to B.C. Teachers’ Federation president Teri Mooring, who said that the Vancouver Coastal Health data paints a picture that’s not entirely helpful given the rise in variants this spring. The Fraser Health data, while more recent, still wraps up before mi-March

“It shows very little about what’s actually happening in schools in April,” she told Black Press Media by phone Thursday afternoon.

“It’s interesting to see what happened historically… we need to know what’s happened in the past couple of weeks.”

Mooring points to other jurisdictions in Canada that release data weekly, if not daily, as something she hopes to see B.C. work towards.

She said that the fact that the majority of cases in Fraser Health and Vancouver Coastal are in students points to the importance of the newest mandate that extended mask wearing down to Grade 4 students.

However, Mooring said that there has not been enough progress on the union’s main asks: clarity on when schools can or should move to hybrid learning, HEPA filters in schools and a more regional approach.

“A regional approach to a hybrid model, a regional approach perhaps, in some situations, to going to full online,” she said. That could be especially important in Fraser Health, where COVID transmission was limited to just 15 per cent of schools between January and March 7 and targeted actions could prevent a large proportion of transmission.

“We’re not talking about a province-wide hybrid model here. We’re talking about a relatively small percentage of schools – with a high population of students – that ought to have the flexibility to go to a hybrid model as necessary,” Mooring she said. “It’s a little befuddling why we can’t focus on those preventative measures in light of the data.”

READ MORE: B.C. teachers’ union asks officials for COVID data to prove schools are still safe

READ MORE: Industrial sites, pubs, restaurants driving COVID-19 spread, B.C. data show

READ MORE: B.C. urges people to stay in their neighbourhoods, discourages out-of-household meet-ups

READ MORE: Top doctor warns B.C.’s daily cases could reach 3,000 as COVID hospitalizations surge


@katslepian

katya.slepian@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

CoronavirusSchools

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Oak Bay Police Department briefs for May 3 to 9. (Black Press Media file photo)
Copper wire stolen after Oak Bay construction site targeted twice by thieves

Cop briefs include pair of impounded cars, swiped back medication

A partnership is looking to identify skeletal remains that were discovered by recreational divers in the Gorge Waterway this February. (Black Press Media File Photo)
Divers find partial human skull in Gorge Waterway

B.C. Coroner Service determines remains likely historical, not ancestral

Colwood council voted to give businesses less of a cut than planned and will look for more cuts this week. (Black Press Media file photo)
Colwood council gets back to work after voting against 9.3% property tax hike

Emergency meetings this week will find more cuts, finalize tax plan by Friday deadline

A man was arrested after allegedly threatening people downtown on May 10 while brandishing this knife. (Photo courtesy of VicPD)
Man armed with a knife arrested for allegedly threatening people in downtown Victoria

Officers used de-escalation techniques during afternoon arrest

A bullet hole is seen in the windshield of an RCMP vehicle approximately 4 km from Vancouver International Airport after a one person was killed during a shooting outside the international departures terminal at the airport, in Richmond, B.C., Sunday, May 9, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Homicide team IDs man in fatal YVR shooting as police grapple with spate of gang violence

Man, 20, charged in separate fatal shooting Burnaby over the weekend

Keith MacIntyre - BC Libertarian
Penticton’s Keith MacIntyre new leader of the B.C. Libertarian Party

The Penticton businessman was voted in by members of the party on May 8

RCMP are searching for Philip Toner, who is a 'person of interest' in the investigation of a suspicious death in Kootenay National Park last week. Photo courtesy BC RCMP.
Man sought in suspicious Kootenay death found in Lake Country

Philip Toner is a person of interest in the death of Brenda Ware

Vernon North Okanagan RCMP reported to 287 mental health calls between Jan. 1, 2021, and May 1. (Black Press files)
‘It’s not the police’s responsibility to deal with mental health calls’: Vernon RCMP

RCMP remind public to take care of mental health and well-being, while better solutions are sought

Thompson Rivers University campus is in Kamloops, B.C. (KTW file photo)
Thompson Rivers the 1st B.C. university to supply free menstrual products

The university will offer the products this September

Fraser Health is using ‘targeted’ vaccination clinics in high-risk areas of the Lower Mainland. (Fraser Health photo)
B.C.’s COVID-19 decrease continues, 515 new cases Tuesday

426 seriously ill people in hospital, up from 415 Monday

A scene from the Schoolhouse Squat from October 2018, where Alliance Against Displacement members and supporters occupied the Rutherford Elementary School site, advocating for people experiencing homelessness. (News Bulletin file)
‘Schoolhouse Squat’ activists get conditional discharge in Nanaimo school occupation

Ivan Donald Drury, Tingchun (Listen) Chen sentenced in provincial court in Nanaimo

The site of Sunfest, Laketown Ranch, will be open for camping this summer. (Citizen file)
Sunfest country music bash won’t be shining on B.C. in 2021

Annual Vancouver Island Festival cancelled due to COVID-19, along with Laketown Shakedown

Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation elected chief councillor Moses Martin, who was also Chantel Moore’s grandfather, speaks to media in Port Alberni on Aug. 16, 2020, during a visit from NDP leader Jagmeet Singh following the police shooting of Chantel Moore. (Elena Rardon photo)
Mother of 2 shot by police in critical condition, says B.C. First Nation chief

Community ‘devastated’ by third member of 1,150-person Vancouver Island nation shot in less than a year

Most Read