So far, there have been no COVID variants among the school exposures in North Vancouver.
And as many families on the North Shore head off for two weeks of spring break, both school and health officials are hoping to keep it that way.
Mark Pearmain, superintendent of schools for North Vancouver, told trustees this week that he hasn’t been notified by Vancouver Coastal Health of any “variant of concern” – such as the U.K. or South African COVID variant – in local schools.
There continue to be exposure reports in schools, said Pearmain, although those have been fewer than there were in February so far. Health officials indicate those come from spread of the virus in the community rather than in school settings.
“It’s tending to be based on social events and play dates and carpooling,” said Pearmain. “And those things I think are just difficult for us to manage.”
In the North Vancouver School District, six schools have accounted for over half of all exposures since September, said Pearmain. Those schools are Carson Graham Handsworth, Argyle and Sutherland secondaries and Upper Lynn and Braemar elementary schools. A total of 25 public schools in the North Vancouver school district have had at least one exposure, said Pearmain, while seven schools have not.
There have been a number of recent school exposure notices leading up to spring break.
Several North Van secondary, elementary classes receive exposure notices
Families at Ecole Argyle Secondary received notices about exposures to the virus in three classes: a Grade 8 French language class on March 5, a Grade 9/10 foods class on March 1-3 and a Grade 9 sciences humaines class on March 3. Three classes at Handsworth also received notices: a Grade 10 science class with exposures on March 3-5 and 8-9, a science 10 class and a composition 10 class with exposures on March 4 and 5.
A Grade 11 physics class at Carson Graham was also exposed March 1-3.
A Grade 12 foods class at Sutherland also received a notice of exposure March 2.
Students at St. Thomas Aquinas private school also received a notice that Grade 9-12 boys basketball academy, Grade 9-12 girls sports academy were also exposed March 3 – 5.
In elementary school, students in a Grade 6/7 class at Ecole Braemar received a notice of exposure March 5.
Students in a Grade 6/7 class at Ridgeway were exposed March 8 and 9.
Students in a Grade 5 class at Ecole Cleveland, one “school-based group” and a continuing strings program received a notice of exposure March 1, 3, 4 and 5.
At Capilano Elementary, a person who was potentially infectious was at the school on March 3 but left before any students arrived for the day.
In West Vancouver Secondary, students in two classes, an English 9 and an ICT class were exposed March 8 and 9.
Students in two classes at Sentinel Secondary were exposed on the same dates.
Pearmain said Tuesday that despite the challenges of the COVID school year, “we are extremely fortunate that we've been able to keep our schools open since September. We are one of the few jurisdictions across North America that have been able to do that.”
“Ultimately I truly believe that it has been worth it,” he said. “It's been worth it for our students and their mental health. It's been worth it for our staff and our community.”