Outbreak declared at B.C. Christian school after 32 students, staff test positive for COVID-19

Maple Ridge Christian School is seen in a Google Maps image. Health officials declared a COVID-19 outbreak at the school on Friday, Sept. 24, 2021.

For the second time this week, health officials have declared a COVID-19 outbreak at a school in B.C.'s Lower Mainland.

The latest outbreak was announced Friday at Maple Ridge Christian School, where 32 students and staff have tested positive for the disease so far.

Fraser Health said the private school, which teaches kindergarten through Grade 12, has suspended in-person classes, but only for students in Grade 5 and below.

"Maple Ridge Christian School will remain open to in-person instruction for Grade 6 and above while Fraser Health undertakes care and contact management," the health authority said in a news release.

"Fraser Health is collaborating with the school as part of the outbreak response."

Promontory Heights Elementary in Chilliwack cancelled in-person classes entirely after 20 students and staff caught COVID-19. Officials said they're hoping students can return to classes on Oct. 4.

The sudden switch to remote learning has left many parents scrambling to make daycare plans. Tom McGregor, who has a son in Grade 1 at Promontory Heights, told CTV News several extended family members were helping him and his wife with child care week.

"You do kind of roll with the punches with COVID," he said Thursday. "Nobody really knows what's around the corner."

Some parents and teachers have expressed concerns about the return to in-person learning this school year, given the spread of the highly contagious Delta COVID-19 variant and the fact that children under the age of 12 are currently ineligible for vaccination.

More than 100 schools have notified families of possible coronavirus exposures since the start of the school year, and data from the B.C. Centre for Disease Control shows a spike in cases among elementary-aged children.

With files from CTV News Vancouver's Penny Daflos and Michele Brunoro