As COVID-19 cases continue to surge, British Columbia’s top doctor suggested closing schools would only result in higher case numbers.
On Tuesday afternoon, Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry was asked why schools in the province are remaining open — especially when other parts of Canada have switched to online learning.
Toronto, for example, recently announced that all schools would temporarily close and pivot to virtual learning. Additionally, high schools in Quebec are currently on a hybrid model, blending in-person and virtual learning.
Henry says that the matter has been discussed with education leaders and is something they’ve “put a focus on.”
“We’ve been in touch with our counterparts in the Ministry of Education, with the Superintendents, with the school districts, principals, and teachers,” she says.
“What we have also learned is that we see cases go up when children are not in school, and that is often because they have other unstructured time.”
- See also:
Henry stressed that “children need school,” adding that the “downside impacts on families are immense.”
She also noted that Surrey, which is currently the highest risk community in the province, has taken additional measures, including working with a school team, revamping the current COVID-19 safety plans, and immunizing when possible.
“We need to find that way of safely keeping children in schools so we can protect our communities.”
On Tuesday afternoon, health officials also said that the provincial response to the pandemic would remain largely the same as it’s been thus far.
“The same measures that we take make a difference in preventing that transmission, and we have the measures in place that we know will work,” said Henry.
With files from Eric Zimmer