Parents concerned about COVID-19 notification process

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By MARCIA JANSEN

DRIFTWOOD CONTRIBUTOR

After learning about recent COVID-19 cases in the school system on Salt Spring Island, parents of school kids are concerned about the slow and sometimes absent notification process by Island Health.

Parents of children who were in close contact with a student with COVID-19 at Fulford Elementary School on Oct 4, 6 and 7 were notified by Island Health a few days after the infection was confirmed, and it took the agency until Oct. 13 to add it to a website list of potential exposures.

“When there is a COVID-19 case in a school, we don’t hear about it fast enough or we don’t hear anything at all,” explained Adria Kray, co-chair of the District Parent Advisory Council (DPAC), articulating the concerns of local parents. “It is important to know what’s happening with cases in schools so people can make informed decisions about how to keep their families as safe as possible.”

DPAC had an extra meeting last week with superintendent Scott Benwell to address the concerns of the parents and to talk about the safety of the children in school.

“I hear and share the frustration,” said Benwell. “We are trying to get the information out as quick as possible, but that’s all we can do, our hands are tied.”

Because of privacy guidelines, the schools are not allowed to share information school-wide about COVID-19 exposures with parents, he said. Only individuals at risk will be contacted.

Kray hopes that the notification process will change back to the way it was last year when a notice was sent home to families in the schools.

“We shouldn’t have to go to a website to see if there is a COVID case in our schools, or hear it from the rumour mill. We’re talking about public health, and Island Health should be more open about it.”

For more on this story, see the Oct. 20 issue of the Driftwood newspaper.

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