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Keeping B.C. schools open 'highest priority': Dr. Bonnie Henry

Province's top doc reiterates that schools are not a major source of transmission in B.C.

B.C.’s provincial health officer is confirming that schools will be open next week for students even though cases continue to rise.

The government announced a phased restart of K-12 schools last week, a move meant to give staff time to implement additional COVID-19 protocols. Children of essential workers and students with special needs will return to class Jan. 3 or 4. Everyone else will resume in-person learning on Jan. 10.

"I have tasked schools specifically to take stock and prepare plans to safely operate over the coming months with the potential for reduced staff and keeping children safe in school,” said Dr. Bonnie Henry during a media briefing Tuesday. 

Keeping schools open remains their highest priority, she said, asking for flexibility from everyone. 

"It’s essential that we keep schools open for children, just as we’ve kept grocery stores and pharmacies and hospitals open.” 

If you have a child that is high-risk, Henry said you may want to pause extracurricular activities and just focus on your child attending school. 

"Everyone in schools should be vaccinated and vaccines are the best protection for all of us,” said the province's top doctor.

COVID-19, including the Omicron variant, continues to be mild in most children, according to Henry. 

Schools are not a major source of transmission in B.C., she said.

"The measures we have in place, adding in, going back to some of the ones we were using early on, means they’re an important place to keep open for all students starting next week,” she said. 

B.C. reported 9,332 new cases of COVID-19 from Dec. 31 to Jan. 3., for a total of 264,181 cases in the province since the pandemic began.