Alberni District Secondary records first COVID-19 school exposure on Vancouver Island

Alberni District Secondary records first COVID-19 school exposure on Vancouver Island
WatchVancouver Island's first COVID-19 school exposure has been recorded in the Alberni Valley. The positive case in a student at Alberni District Secondary school was confirmed Saturday.

Island Health has confirmed that a case of COVID-19 has been linked to Alberni District Secondary School in Port Alberni.

The positive case was reported on Saturday, Oct. 3, by the Pacific Rim School District – School District 70.

The exposure, listed on Island Health’s website, occurred on Sept. 14, 15, 17, 18, and 22.

“We are providing this information so school staff, students and parents can be assured that Public Health is aware and acting upon all detected COVID-19 exposures within schools,” reads a statement on Island Health’s website.

“If you or your child have been identified as a COVID-19 positive case or close contact, be assured that Island Health’s Public Health team will contact you directly and provide further instruction.”

A notice from the school district said that Island Health is currently completing contact tracing to identify any staff and students that need to self-isolate.

The district added that phone calls are being made to staff and students that the health authority has identified as close contacts and who need to self-isolate for 14 days from when they were exposed.

Island Health Medical Health Officer Dr. Charmaine Enns said by Monday, all of those people had been contacted.

“They’re now at home self-isolating, they’re monitored daily by public health,” said Enns.

“Anyone who develops symptoms will be tested.”

No immediate action is required for anyone who does not receive a phone call or letter, however, officials are asking students and staff to continue monitoring for any possible symptoms of the virus.

“We know this message can cause a variety of feelings and reactions within the school community and your family,” reads a letter from Alberni District Superintendent Greg Smyth.

“We also recognize the impact COVID-19 has had on the mental health and well-being of families. Your principal and vice-principal, as well as the resources of the district, are available to support you. Please do not hesitate to reach out.”

According to the Alberni School District, the student last attended class on Sept. 22 when they started to feel ill. The two week incubation period of the virus should be this Wednesday, so officials are hopeful that no other students have contracted the virus.

“We’re still taking a very precautionary approach even by asking that whole class or identifying that whole class as a contact,” said Enns.

Island Health says it will continue to keep its website up to date for any possible COVID-19 school exposures within the region.

Mya Wiliams and her friends took their school’s COVID-19 exposure in stride Monday as they showed up as usual at Alberni District Secondary. But Williams said many stayed home after a fellow student tested positive over the weekend.

“Yeah I was a little surprised Since it’s a small town and I didn’t think that anybody would travel but I don’t think there’s any other cases here so I think we’re OK,” said Williams.

Her friend Dana Mullen, said she was worried after her parents shared a letter from the Alberni School District that informed them of the case on Sunday night.

“I tried my best to come to school today because it’s better than being at home,” said Mullen.

“I am a little bit nervous about the contact but I’m sure everything’s OK.”

Fia Pater works at a cafe near Alberni District Secondary where many students eat. The Port Alberni resident said her own child is immunocompromised, so the positive case has her worried.

“I have a five-year-old that has pneumonia and is prone to pneumonia. she’s asthmatic,” said Pater.

“So these kids coming in, it compromises my family.”


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