COVID-19 outbreak forces closure of West Kelowna elementary school

·2 min read
Mar Jok Elementary School in West Kelowna, seen here in a 2015 image, will temporarily close due to a COVID-19 outbreak. (Google Street View - image credit)
Mar Jok Elementary School in West Kelowna, seen here in a 2015 image, will temporarily close due to a COVID-19 outbreak. (Google Street View - image credit)

A West Kelowna elementary school will temporarily close and switch to remote learning due to a COVID-19 outbreak.

In a statement Tuesday, Central Okanagan Public Schools said Mar Jok Elementary will suspend in-class learning at the recommendation of Interior Health, which has declared an outbreak at the school.

"The declaration of an outbreak and temporary closure of the physical school to in-class learning is an important safety measure. We are confident in our staff's proven ability to minimize the disruption to learning and transition to remote learning for students," said superintendent Kevin Kaardal.

"Interior Health has worked closely with our administrators to protect students and staff, and we are well prepared to adapt to safety measures such as this to prevent the spread of communicable disease."

Interior Health, in a statement of its own, asked all members of the school community to self-monitor for symptoms and get tested for COVID-19 if they are sick. Anyone with symptoms is to avoid social gatherings and non-essential travel.

Central Okanagan Schools said that in recent weeks, the health authority has asked several people connected to the school to self-isolate. Despite this, exposures continued.

Interior Health said it had declared multiple "potential exposure events" at the kindergarten to Grade 5 school since late October. Exposure events have been recently declared at five other West Kelowna elementary and middle schools.

Public health is following up with anyone identified as a COVID-19 case for contact tracing, Interior Health said. Students who have been in contact with someone who's infected will be told to self-isolate at home.

Kaardal said the closure was not a surprise because previous safety measures had not stopped exposures over the past two weeks.

"COVID does enter schools. It reflects what's going on in the community," Kaardal said. "Schools are generally very safe. This is a safety precaution."

The closure will last from Nov. 11 until Nov. 22. Kaardal said there are about 468 students enrolled at Mar Jok.

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