Surrey high school notches 50 COVID-19 cases across 5 classes

A Surrey high school is notifying parents of an alarming number of Covid-19 cases that required affected individuals in the school to self-isolate over the winter break.

In a letter obtained by Global News that was sent to parents on January 3, Superintendent of Schools Dr. Jordan Tinney advises that 50 cases involving individuals across five classes sharing common areas and structures had been identified, and letters sent to those affected individuals to self-isolate over the holidays.

Tinney adds that notices continued to be sent during the break “due to the tracing and new information that was coming to light after the winter break began but related to that last week of school.”

He says a series of letters sent by Fraser Health Authority several other classes in the school “was a precautionary measure, and Fraser Health believes that there was no further transmission beyond this core group (of 50 cases across five classes).”

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A number of concerned parents posting on the Facebook B.C. School Covid Tracker page expressed concern as to why an outbreak has not been declared at the school, so close to the return to school date of January 4.

In late November, Fraser Health declared an outbreak at Newton Elementary School in Surrey involving 16 positive Covid cases.

A spokesperson for Surrey Schools in an email deferred to Fraser Health with respect to when an outbreak is declared, saying the school district “relies on the advice of our medical health experts to guide the safe operation of our schools.”

Fraser Health’s website defines an outbreak as “multiple individuals with lab-confirmed COVID-19 infection when transmission is likely widespread within the school setting.” The site currently reports ‘No reported exposures at this time’ for Surrey School District #36.

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Tinney advises parents that the school district is “implementing further health and safety measures inside and outside our school”, though it is not clear if he is referring to Earl Marriott exclusively or other schools within the district as well.

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The Superintendent says the district has “subsequently met with Fraser Health to learn more about those closing days and how we might review and adjust our plans as we open for January.”

He adds that the district is working with the health authority to avoid similar situations in the future, and reminding parents to do a daily health check and not send a sick child to school.

Global News has reached out for more clarification from Superintendent Tinney and Fraser Health on what these measures entail, and how this will affect students and parents going forward.

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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