118 schools on Lower Mainland COVID-19 exposure lists this week

There were 118 schools on COVID-19 exposure lists in the Fraser and Vancouver Coastal health authorities on Friday, a slight increase from the previous week, but well below the average for the school year so far. 

All but nine of the schools with recent exposures were in the Fraser Health region.

Schools are added to the lists when a student or staff member tests positive and officials believe there is a risk of ongoing transmission to other members of the school community.

Fraser Health removes schools from its list two weeks after the last exposure date, while Vancouver Coastal Health removes schools four weeks after the last exposure date.

Exposure notifications are not posted for every case of COVID-19 associated with a school community, and schools are not added to the health authority lists until after close contacts have been notified directly by public health officials.

COVID-19 vaccination for children ages five to 11 began this week in B.C. As of Monday afternoon, more than 108,000 of the roughly 350,000 children in that age group had been registered to receive a first dose.

The vaccination effort comes as the province and the world brace for the potential impact of the concerning Omicron variant, which has a high number of mutations, though experts remain uncertain how those mutations affect transmissibility, severity of illness and possible vaccine resistance. https://bc.ctvnews.ca/b-c-confirms-1st-case-of-omicron-covid-19-variant-1.5687128

B.C. confirmed its first case of Omicron earlier this week.

The Delta variant remains the dominant strain of the coronavirus in B.C., and provincial health officials have blamed it for increasing the median number of infections seen in school clusters this school year.

As of an update provided by provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry last month, approximately 12 per cent of schools in the province had seen a cluster of COVID-19 cases with evidence in-school transmission.

Children under age 12 account for approximately 20 per cent of B.C.'s COVID-19 cases, despite representing just 10 per cent of the province's population, though Henry says studies by the B.C. Centre for Disease Control have found that most cases among children in that age group are acquired in the community or at home, rather than in the classroom. 

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