Island Health reports 2 more COVID-19 clusters at schools

Eighteen schools across the Island Health region are currently listed on the health authority's list of potential exposure sites as of Friday morning.

Of those schools, six are reporting single potential exposures, while 12 have reported "clusters" of cases within the past two weeks.

Ten of the potential cluster sites were already on the list as of Monday, but two more were added by Friday.

Island Health added Deep Cove Elementary in North Saanich and Cloverdale Traditional Elementary in Victoria to the list of potential cluster sites this week.

A "cluster" is defined as "two or more confirmed cases within a 14-day period, with evidence of transmission occurring within the school and no other likely source of exposure," according to Island Health.

A cluster of cases is more severe than a single exposure, but less severe than an "outbreak," when "multiple confirmed cases within a 14-day period" indicate ongoing transmission of the illness within a school.

Each school remains on Island Health's list of potential COVID-19 exposure sites until 14 days after its most recent exposure. The full list can be found here.

Earlier this week, the Greater Victoria Teachers’ Association called for stricter health measures at schools, such as the use of mandatory masks for younger students, and the return of cohorts or hybrid learning.

On Friday morning, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Education Minister Jennifer Whiteside announced that masks would be mandatory for all students and staff in the province's K-12 system.

Previously, masks were only recommended for children in kindergarten through Grade 3.