Bulletin #38 – New PHO orders

“We are in our second surge and it’s proving to be a challenge…We need to relieve the stress on our health care system right now…We need to keep our essential activities and services open and operating safely. We need to keep our schools open and operating safely.”

— PHO Dr. Bonnie Henry

New orders put in place

B.C. is now experiencing a surge in the pandemic with increased community transmission, outbreaks, and effects on our health care system in every health authority. PHO Dr. Bonnie
Henry has now applied the regional orders to Vancouver Coastal and Fraser Health province-wide.

New expanded orders have been put in place, effective until midnight December 7 to ensure that we get through one to two incubation periods. The PHO will regularly review progress and wants to see a slowing down of transmission.

Reduced social activities in homes and outside

The orders call for no social gatherings in homes other than with those who live there and to reduce social interactions of any size outside of our homes. Those who live alone can spend time with one or two people if they regularly spend time with them. All indoor and outdoor events are not allowed to take place until further notice.

Masks now mandatory for all indoor public and retail settings, but not in schools

The PHO has made clear that wearing masks is one of the ways we can prevent transmissions, along with practicing physical distancing, washing our hands and staying away from others if not feeling well. The PHO has asked the Minister of Public Safety to issue a requirement to wear masks for all indoor public and retail spaces for staff and customers, except when eating or drinking.

This requirement does not apply to anyone who is unable to put on or take off a mask on their own, to children under the age of two, or to schools. Schools are not considered open public spaces as members of the public cannot just walk into a school. We have layers of protection in schools as defined by safety plans.

The existing protocols and guidelines in the COVID-19 Operational Guidelines and the Provincial COVID-19 Health and Safety Guidelines for K-12 Settings remain in effect.

We recognize that our members face many challenges in the face of this continuing pandemic. Dr. Bonnie Henry has also recognized those working in schools for their contribution to keeping schools open—and has underscored how important this is for children. CUPE is committed to supporting safe workplaces for our members and we follow the guidelines set by the PHO.  We continue to advocate for K-12 members and expect to have opportunities to meet with public health in the future.

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Bulletin #37 – Two public schools close due to COVID-19

Although infection rates remain significantly lower in schools than in the community, CUPE members in Locals 728 (Surrey) and 1091 (Delta) have recently been affected by COVID-19. In Surrey, SD 36 closed Cambridge Elementary until November 30 as advised by Fraser Health. In Delta, Jarvis Elementary will also be closed for two weeks effective November 16.

K-12 locals across the province are dealing with self-isolation with many of our members being told to self-isolate across several districts. Details about school exposures and clusters can be found on each health region’s website. (Please see Bulletin 33 for links.)

Parents, students and the public depend on CUPE members supporting students in schools throughout B.C.

The position of the K-12 Presidents Council has always been that safety in schools—for everyone—is paramount.

Whether schools close by choice or are ordered to close, the K-12 Presidents Council strongly advocates that continuity of wages and benefits must not be interrupted. All locals should continue to work with their districts to ensure that members do not have to use any of their accrued banks because they were directed to self-isolate.

We are working hard to support locals during school closures. British Columbians need all support staff available, healthy and able to continue to support students.

Your K-12 Presidents Council and CUPE continue to focus on:

  • Keeping members, students and everyone in the K-12 community safe
  • Helping locals navigate through this pandemic
  • Continuing to work with government and all stakeholders

We will continue to follow the science and guidance of the Provincial Health Officer and the BCCDC.

In safety and solidarity,

Warren Williams
K-12 Presidents Council President

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Bulletin # 36 – PHO AND MASKS

Being called upon to adjust to new changes as COVID continues, can be challenging. But if we all do our part and follow the PHO orders, hopefully we will flatten the curve in our communities and in our schools.

In solidarity and safety,

Warren Williams
K-12 Presidents Council President

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PHO issues new orders for Vancouver Coastal Health and Fraser Health Regions

On November 7, 2020, Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry issued an order to limit social interactions in the Lower Mainland and the Fraser Valley to those who live in the same household for the next two weeks.

The order is aimed at reducing social interactions so that schools and workplaces can remain open. Henry says that it is incredibly important that we slow the virus.

Henry said that the foundational layers of protection and the minimal but important province-wide orders have not changed. Basic measures that all individuals need to take to prevent transmission of this virus are: cleaning our hands regularly; making sure we cover our cough and not touch our face; keeping our safe distance, particularly from people we don’t know when we’re in public spaces; and, wearing a mask when we cannot maintain physical distancing, particularly in indoor locations.

School districts do not need to change their health and safety procedures in response to this order and should continue to follow the existing protocols and guidelines in the COVID-19 Operational Guidelines and the Provincial COVID-19 Health and Safety Guidelines for K-12 Settings. The BCCDC has also set up a new epidemiology dashboard that will be updated on Tuesdays and Fridays. The information will show cases as well as number of tests in each given location.

The PHO also said that the outbreak at École de l’Anse-au-sable in Kelowna has been declared over and students and staff are back in class.

Watch the Nov. 7 update here, starting at 5:41.

You can watch the Nov. 9 update here starting at 4:54.

 

MORE ON MASKS

As science and medical evidence comes in with respect to this pandemic, things change frequently. The following information on masks is from the Public Health Agency of Canada. Here you’ll find information about proper material, structure and fit; children and masks; use and storage; safety considerations, etc.

How well a mask or face covering works depends on the materials used, how the mask is made, and most importantly, how well it fits.

A mask or face covering can be homemade or purchased, and should be made of at least three layers. Two layers should be tightly woven material fabric, such as cotton or linen and the third (middle) layer should be a filter-type fabric.

The mask should:

  • be large enough to completely and comfortably cover the nose, mouth and chin without gaping
  • allow for easy breathing
  • fit securely to the head with ties or ear loops
  • l be comfortable and not require frequent adjustments
  • be changed as soon as possible if damp or dirty
  • maintain its shape after washing and drying

Filters add an extra layer of protection against COVID-19 by trapping small infectious particles.

Consider wearing a mask that includes a filter or filter material as one of its layers.

Reusable masks with a non-woven filter layer should be washed daily, and can be washed multiple times.

Disposable filters should be changed daily or as directed by the manufacturer.

 

Bulletin #35 – Heath Regions

It is very concerning to see that COVID-19 outbreaks are now happening in B.C. schools.

It’s not unexpected because the virus is still in our communities, and that makes our schools vulnerable as well.

Every health region in B.C. provides information online about COVID-19 exposures and the protocols they follow when reporting them.

In all cases, public health will investigate, interview, and conduct contact tracing. If anyone has been identified as a COVID-19 case or close contact, public health will contact them directly to provide further instruction. Dr. Bonnie Henry advised that if a person has not been contacted by public health, they should continue to monitor themselves and go to school as they normally would.

Let’s all continue to follow the guidance of the PHO: practice physical distancing, wash your hands frequently, wear a mask when indoors if you cannot maintain physical distancing, and stay home if you don’t feel well.

In solidarity and safety,

Warren Williams
K-12 Presidents Council President

View PDF.

Health regions cover the following school districts:

Click on health region to get information about protocols and the current COVID-19 school exposures by district.

 FRASER HEALTH

SD 33 Chilliwack
SD 34 Abbotsford
SD 35 Langley
SD 36 Surrey
SD 37 Delta
SD 40 New Westminster
SD 41 Burnaby
SD 42 Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows
SD 43 Coquitlam
SD 75 Mission
SD 78 Fraser-Cascade
SD 93 Conseil scolaire francophone

INTERIOR HEALTH

SD 5 South East Kootenay
SD 6 Rocky Mountain
SD 8 Kootenay Lake
SD 10 Arrow Lakes
SD 19 Revelstoke
SD 20 Kootenay Columbia
SD 22 Vernon
SD 23 Central Okanagan
SD 27 Cariboo Chilcotin
SD 51 Boundary
SD 53 Okanagan Similkameen
SD 58 Nicola-Similkameen
SD 67 Okanagan Skaha
SD 73 Kamloops/Thompson
SD 74 Gold Trail
SD 83 Okanagan-North Shuswap
SD 93 Conseil scolaire francophone

ISLAND HEALTH

SD 61 Greater Victoria
SD 62 Sooke
SD 63 Saanich
SD 64 Gulf Islands
SD 68 Nanaimo-Ladysmith
SD 69 Qualicum
SD 70 Pacific Rim
SD 71 Comox Valley
SD 72 Campbell River
SD 79 Cowichan Valley
SD 84 Vancouver Island West
SD 85 Vancouver Island North

NORTHERN HEALTH

SD 28 Quesnel
SD 50 Haida Gwaii
SD 52 Prince Rupert
SD 54 Bulkley Valley
SD 57 Prince George
SD 59 Peace River South
SD 60 Peace River North
SD 81 Fort Nelson
SD 82 Coast Mountains
SD 87 Stikine
SD 91 Nechako Lakes
SD 92 Nisga’a

VANCOUVER COASTAL HEALTH

SD 38 Richmond
SD 39 Vancouver
SD 44 North Vancouver
SD 45 West Vancouver
SD 46 Sunshine Coast
SD 47 Powell River
SD 48 Sea to Sky
SD 49 Central Coast
SD 93 Conseil scolaire francophone