The rise in COVID-19 cases among children suggests that additional measures are needed to keep schools open and safe this year.

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Teachers, parents and researchers are calling for additional safety measures in schools this year as COVID-19 cases have risen among BC children.

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COVID-19 cases in children and adolescents across the province have risen since August, and seven-day averages of COVID-19 in children under the age of 10 in British Columbia’s health regions have risen dramatically compared to the same. last year’s period.

On September 22 in the Fraser Health region, for example, the seven-day average of COVID-19 cases among children under the age of 10 was 39. A year ago it was four.

“Anything we can do to reduce transmission rates in the community will help our schools remain open and safe,” said Sarah Otto, Canada Research Chair in Theoretical and Experimental Evolution at UBC. “Especially in regions where there are lower vaccination rates.”

According to Otto, the same protections that were used last year apply to this one: keep children within the same cohort to reduce transmission, reduce the number of students in indoor group settings, increase ventilation, and increase masking. Rapid antigen tests, which can return COVID-19 test results in less than 30 minutes, could also help.

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“In that age group there are many asymptomatic cases and a lot of transmission that occurs before people show any symptoms,” said Otto.

Kathy Marliss, co-founder of the BC School Covid Tracker, a database of COVID-19 exposures in public schools that have been confirmed by school or health authorities, wants “full transparency” from the government on COVID-19 cases in British Columbia schools this year, somewhat who said the school exposure letters were lacking last year.

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“How many cases are we talking about in that exhibition?” Marliss asked. “We have school administrators calling saying ‘that letter you got that says a (case)? It’s really five o’clock. “

He said British Columbia authorities have been slow to release information about exhibits in schools.

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“When the exposure (of the school) happens, we see letters that come out 10 days, 12 days later,” he said.

In Ontario, health authorities publish a daily list of school exhibitions, including details on how many students and staff were infected at each school, among other details.

Heather Amos, a spokeswoman for the BC CDC, said in an email response that notifications of COVID-19 exposures in schools would be available online next week and that the system would be similar to last year.

“Public health will continue to prioritize schools for contact tracing,” he wrote in an email, adding that close contacts would be followed directly “because they may be at increased risk of infection.”

Marliss would like to see a return to last year’s cohort system, online learning options for at-risk families, greater social distancing through jaw-dropping breaks, and a broader mask mandate.

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“People say ‘well, you know, we haven’t had that many (cases),’” Marliss said. “In my world, a child is too much.”

Jennifer Heighton, founder of Safe Schools Coalition BC and elementary school teacher in Burnaby, organized a pair of rallies in the Lower Mainland to raise concerns about COVID-19 safety in schools.

Health authorities continued to call this “an unvaccinated pandemic,” he said.

“But the entire kindergarten through sixth grade cohort is not vaccinated.”

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According to Otto, the vaccination message being promoted by health authorities remains the most important way to reduce COVID-19 in schools.

“The higher the vaccination rate in the community, the less it takes to round the curve,” he said.

“Get vaccinated for our children,” Otto said. “It’s a good message.”

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