COVID-19 case reported at Port Alberni elementary school

Denise Titian, October 22, 2020

The confirmed COVID-19 case at Wood Elementary is the second reported at a Port Alberni school since classes began in September. (Denise Titian photo)

Port Alberni, BC — 

A second Port Alberni public school is reporting a confirmed COVID-19 case, raising concerns about the safety of schools during the pandemic.

School District 70 Pacific Rim, issued a news release Oct. 22, notifying the public that the district learned of a confirmed COVID-19 case in an individual at Wood Elementary School. person last attended the school on Monday, Oct. 19.

“Public health staff then initiated contact tracing to identify any individuals needing to self-isolate or self-monitor for COVID-19 symptoms,” according to the release. It goes on to say that all contact tracing was completed on the evening of Oct. 21 and a general notification to the school community was issued at that time.

“If you have not received a phone call from public health officials, please continue to attend school and monitor for COVID-19 symptoms as per [B.C. Centre for Disease Control] guidelines noted in the daily health check form,” the news release says.

The afternoon of Thursday, Oct. 22 was a bright, cool crisp one and students were out playing on the lawn and playground. Most adults and children had masks dangling around their necks but two adults and one child were wearing them. By this time, anyone notified about possibly being exposed to COVID-19 was self-isolating at home.

The Wood Elementary School is the second school in Port Alberni to have someone test positive for the novel coronavirus. In mid-September an individual at Alberni District Secondary School tested positive for the virus. In addition, another individual tested positive at Carihi Secondary School in Campbell River on Sept.28. These are the only three public schools on Vancouver Island having positive cases since the start of the school year in September.

Island Health follows a strict protocol when they receive a positive COVID-19 test result. According to their website, contact tracing is initiated to determine how the individual was infected and who they were in close contact with. Next, they identify and notify close contacts who may be at an increased risk, and advise them to self-isolate for 14 days and monitor for symptoms. 

“Only public health nurses and medical health officers determine who is a close contact,” Island Health states, adding that learning groups, friends or other connections may not be determined to be a close contact. 

For parents concerned that their child may have come in contact with an infected person, Island Health assures them that if you or your child have been identified as a COVID-19 positive case or close contact, Island Health will contact you directly and provide further instruction.

Island Health advises parents to always monitor yourself and your child for symptoms of COVID-19. Further, if your child’s school has been notified of an exposure, no action is required unless you are contacted by Public Health or are otherwise directed by school officials. 

For more information about which schools on Vancouver Island has had confirmed COVID-19 cases visit https://www.islandhealth.ca/learn-about-health/covid-19/exposures-schools