Cluster of COVID-19 cases found at Victoria Elementary School

An elementary school in Victoria has seen a cluster of COVID-19 cases in recent days, according to Island Health.

A notice on the health authority's website indicates that a cluster was declared at Sir James Douglas Elementary School on Friday.

In the school context, a cluster is defined as two or more people in a school community testing positive for COVID-19 within a 14-day period, with evidence of transmission of the disease on school property and "no other likely source of exposure."

The Island Health website does not indicate how many people at the school have tested positive, nor does it share the dates of potential exposures to members of the school community.

Last school year, the provincial government required health authorities to post a public notification whenever someone who tested positive for COVID-19 was found to have been present at a school during their infectious period.

This year, that policy has changed, with health authorities no longer publishing information about every exposure, instead only providing public notifications when a cluster or outbreak is declared.

Every case is still investigated and those who may have been exposed to the coronavirus at school are still notified by public health officials, according to provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry

"We've heard very clearly from people that the majority of people felt that the school-based letters were more anxiety-provoking than helpful," Henry said. "But we will absolutely be keeping the schools informed."

Since the change was announced, parents and teachers have panned the decision.

B.C. Teachers' Federation president Terri Mooring told The Canadian Press that not having information about what's going on in schools would cause more stress for parents than receiving COVID-19 exposure notices did. 

“I think the rationale about exposure notifications is a little bit insulting," Mooring said at the time.

Parents have been tracking exposures in schools themselves, publishing the information on the BC School COVID Tracker website

According to a notice from Island Health that was shared on the parents' website, exposures happened at Sir James Douglas on Sept. 8, 9, 10, 13, 14 and 15. 

With files from The Canadian Press

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