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

New electric buses are coming to school districts. (Submitted photo)
New electric school buses will drive North Island forward

Travel on electric school buses is smoother, quieter, and healthier than traditional diesel buses

Destroyed window at Ministry of Social Development offices in Campbell River. Photo supplied by Campbell River RCMP
Police investigating arson in downtown Campbell River

Fire set at BC Employment and Assistance Office

May 3-9 was Mental Health Week, and the Campbell River RCMP is encouraging people, especially men, to seek emotional help if it’s needed. Black Press file photo
Campbell River RCMP encouraging men to seek emotional help if needed

‘Taking care of our Mental Health is not simply about accessing counselling,’ says Const. Maury Tyre

Campbell River’s waste collection schedule will be changing after Victoria Day. Photo by Marc Kitteringham, Campbell River Mirror.
Campbell River Garbage pickup schedule changing after May Long Weekend

Pickup day will change after every statutory holiday

A B.C. Centre for Disease Control map showing new COVID-19 cases by local health area for the week of April 25-May 1. (BCCDC image)
Vancouver Island’s COVID-19 case counts continue to trend down

Fewer than 200 active cases on the Island, down from highs of 500-plus earlier this spring

(The Canadian Press)
Trudeau won’t say whether Canada supports patent waiver for COVID-19 vaccines

‘Canada is at the table to help find a solution’

A sign indicating face coverings are required by the establishment is pictured on the front door of a business in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, April 9, 2021. COVID-19 cases have been on a steady increase in the province of British Columbia over the past week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
A sign indicating face coverings are required by the establishment is pictured on the front door of a business in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, April 9, 2021. COVID-19 cases have been on a steady increase in the province of British Columbia over the past week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. to start releasing neighbourhood-specific COVID numbers after data leak

Documents obtained by the Vancouver Sun show cases broken down by neighbourhoods

Ladysmith RCMP safely escorted the black bear to the woods near Ladysmith Cemetary. (Town of Ladysmith/Facebook photo)
Black bear tranquillized, relocated after wandering around residential Ladysmith

A juvenile black bear was spotted near 2nd Avenue earlier Friday morning

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix update B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature, April 29, 2021. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 case count creeps up, seven more deaths

445 people in hospital, 157 in intensive care

Summerland’s positive test rate is much higher than surrounding local health areas, according to internal BC CDC documents. (BC CDC)
Summerland 3rd behind Surrey, Abbotsford in daily per capita COVID-19 cases

Interior Health is rolling out additional vaccine availability to the community

Amazon is pausing its Prime Day marketing event in Canada this year amid ongoing COVID-19 outbreaks at its facilities in Ontario. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Amazon Prime Day halted in Canada due to COVID-19 outbreaks in warehouses

The event was postponed to protect the health and safety of employees and customers, the company says

Ally Thomas, 12, seen in an undated family handout photo, died on April 14 from a suspected overdose. Her family says they are frustrated more public supports weren't available when they tried to get her help. THE CANADIAN PRESS
Minister says suspected overdose death of 12-year-old pushing B.C. to ‘do better’

Minister Sheila Malcolmson of Mental Health and Addictions says the government is working ‘as hard as we can’ to build a system of care for youths

At this Highway 3 check point, police officers will be asking for identification from drivers, documentation regarding the driver’s name and address, and the purpose for the driver’s travel. (RCMP)
No fines handed out at 1st COVID-19 roadblock as checks move across B.C.

Cpl. Chris Manseau says a total of 127 vehicles were stopped at a roadblock in the Manning Park area

A spectator looks on as the Olympic Caldron is relit in downtown Vancouver, Wednesday, February 12, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Small majority of B.C. residents in favour of a Vancouver 2030 Olympic bid: survey

A new survey shows a split over the possibility of public money being spent to organize and host the winter games

Most Read