Interior Health confirms COVID-19 exposure at Kimberley Independent School

Kimberley Independent School.

Interior Health has confirmed a potential COVID-19 exposure at the Kimberley Independent School. The exposure is believed to have occurred on November 10, 2020.

Kari Johnston, Principal of the Kimberley Independent School, released the following statement.

“Public health teams have identified a possible exposure at the Kimberley Independent School. Health officials identified which staff and/or students were involved in the possible exposure, and those people are self-isolating at home. Those associated with the school that have not been contacted by health officials are deemed low risk and continue monitor themselves for any symptoms, but can continue to go to school.

“”Exposure” is a term used when a single person known to have coronavirus attended school while they were infectious. There is no information on whether the positive case is a student, staff or other to protect the privacy of any individuals involved.

“Kimberley Independent School has been working closely with the Interior Health Authority and the Ministry of Education to ensure the appropriate response path has been followed. Administration is taking all precautions to ensure that Kimberley independent School continues to be a safe place for staff and students as the safety of our students and staff are our utmost priority. We appreciate your support.”

The Bulletin contacted Interior Health for information but was told, for privacy reasons, the health authority was unable to provide any more details about individual cases.

“Cases in schools reflect cases we are seeing in the community, which is why it is so important for everyone to continue to take all precautions for themselves and their children,” said the IH statement.

“While we have had cases in schools, which was expected, we are generally doing well into our third month of kids being back in classes.

“With the exception of one outbreak in a Kelowna school that was declared over two weeks, transmission is not happening within the schools themselves thanks to the controlled environments and precautions are in place.

“When a case is identified, we are working closely with schools to minimize any further spread through contact tracing and appropriate isolation and monitoring.

“This shows us the plan is working and the majority of students continue to get the education they need in a safe environment.

“When there is a case, individuals who may have been exposed are contacted directly by public health and provided guidance and direction.

“Students who are not contacted by IH can continue to attend school.

“We continue to urge parents to avoid situations where exposures are possible. This includes not holding parties with children outside your household and, please, as well, avoid sleepovers with classmates. We know that gatherings are important for our youth, but it’s important to find a different, safe way to celebrate events this year that does not bring numbers of children together either in your home or at another location. While adults are responding to our request to avoid parties, we also need you to know this also includes children festivities as well. This is another way to ensure our schools stay open and our children get the in-class education that is so important.”

As to why further details cannot be provided, IH said,

“Privacy and trust are important for people to be comfortable coming forward to get tested. Identifying initial cases is at the heart of our contact tracing process that reduces further exposures in our communities – we can’t do that if people are afraid to come forward. People are reminded to always follow public health advice: stay home when you are sick, keep your gatherings small and to people you know, practise physical distancing and wear a mask when you cannot, and wash your hands often.”

READ: East Kootenay COVID numbers

READ: Interior Health reports 87 new cases

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