As of Monday, Oct. 4, K-12 students in B.C. schools are required to wear a mask when inside a school building or on a school bus. (Metro Creative photo)

As of Monday, Oct. 4, K-12 students in B.C. schools are required to wear a mask when inside a school building or on a school bus. (Metro Creative photo)

Seven schools on potential COVID-19 exposures list in North Okanagan-Shuswap

Updated mandate on wearing of masks in public schools now in effect

Potential COVID-19 exposures were reported at seven schools in the North Okanagan-Shuswap on Monday, the day new provincial health guidelines came into effect requiring all students to wear masks.

As of Oct. 4, seven schools within School District 83 were on Interior Health’s (IH) list of potential exposure events, four more than were showing Sept. 30.

According to IH, Shuswap Middle School in Salmon Arm and A.L. Fortune Secondary in Enderby both had potential exposures on Sept. 17. Pleasant Valley Secondary School in Armstrong was the IH list with potential exposure dates on Sept. 20 and 21.

Added to the list were South Broadview and Bastion elementary schools in Salmon Arm, both on Sept. 24, Parkview Elementary in Sicamous, Sept. 23 and 24, and Len Wood Middle School with a potential exposure on Sept. 21, 22 and 23.

IH also reports potential COVID-19 exposures at independent schools, and two from the North Okanagan-Shuswap were on the list: King’s Christian School in Salmon Arm, Sept. 17 and 21 to 23, and St. James School in Vernon, Sept. 20 to 24.

According to the health authority, when a school staff member or student tests positive for COVID-19, public health notifies staff and students who need to take a specific action, such as self-monitoring or isolation.

Interior Health posts exposure notifications when a staff member or student attended a school while infectious and there is a possible risk of exposure to COVID-19.

Schools are removed from the potential exposures list 14 days after an exposure date.

Monday, Oct. 4, was the same day masks were made mandatory for all B.C. public school students in kindergarten to Grade 12. The previous day, School District 83 superintendent Donna Kriger issued a media release explaining this applies when inside a school building and on school buses.

“We recognize that some students in grades K-3 may not be accustomed to wearing masks,” said Kriger, explaining school staff would spend time on Oct. 4 helping children adjust to this change, with the goal of building mask wearing into student routines by Tuesday, Oct. 5.

Kriger noted mask requirements do not apply to staff, students and visitors in the following circumstances:

  • A person cannot tolerate wearing a mask for health or behavioural reasons;
  • A person is unable to put on or remove a mask without the assistance of another person;
  • If the mask is removed temporarily for the purposes of identifying the person wearing it;
  • If the mask is removed temporarily to engage in an educational activity that cannot be performed while wearing a mask;
  • If a person is eating or drinking;
  • If a person is behind a barrier; or
  • While providing a service to a person with a disability or diverse ability where visual cues, facial expressions and/or lip reading/movements is important.

Kriger thanked parents/caregivers for their support.

Read more: Five North Okanagan-Shuswap Schools report potential COVID-19 exposure events

Read more: Masks mandatory for all K-12 students in B.C. schools as of today
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