Nanaimo sees COVID-19 exposure alerts at schools, soccer field

Nanaimo sees COVID-19 exposure alerts at schools, soccer field
WatchJohn Barsby Secondary has a second student that has tested positive for COVID-19 and the Nanaimo United Football club is warning of a potential COVID-19 exposure.

There have been more possible COVID-19 exposures in Nanaimo.

The Nanaimo Ladysmith School District announced Friday there was another COVID-19 case at John Barsby Secondary.

Island Health has officially declared a COVID-19 cluster at the school.

Earlier this week the health authority declared a cluster at Dover Bay Secondary.

And the Nanaimo United Football Club is telling some parents that a member of their cohort has tested positive. Play for some teams is now shut down for two weeks.

The new cases of COVID-19 emerging a day after confirmation that five staff members at Nanaimo’s hospital have the virus.

Officials have not said if any of the outbreaks are linked but concern is growing.

“A little scared because my mom works at an old age home,” said Shanai Addison, a John Barsby Secondary student.

“I think they should actually close the schools down in case more kids get COVID. It’s just going to make it more dangerous for kids to keep going to school,” said Colin O’Handley, another student.

Complicating matters the high school semester has just ended, which means students will be in new classes next week.

“If a student were to test positive and be shown to be at school last week and next week then we’re looking at double the possible exposures,” said Denise Wood, President of the Nanaimo District Teachers’ Association.

The association wants masks mandatory in the classroom.

“A mandatory mask policy at least for the next two weeks would go a long way in helping to keep students in school,” said Wood.

But the school district says it’s sticking to the provincial guidelines, which involve mandatory masks in the school’s common areas but not in the classroom.

“We’re still going to follow the advice of our medical health officers and science really,” said Scott Saywell, the school district’s Superintendent.

“When they tell us that it’s time to wear masks in that situation we absolutely will.”

Saywell says when the Alberni District had the first COVID-19 case at a Vancouver Island school attendance dropped by 60 per cent the day after but then students slowly returned.

He hopes the same might happen in Nanaimo as there has been a high number of absentee students but he wants to assure parents there’s no evidence of COVID-19 transmission at schools.

Kendall HansonKendall Hanson

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