Elementary school in Chilliwack, B.C., temporarily closed over COVID-19 outbreak

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CHILLIWACK, B.C. — An elementary school in Chilliwack, B.C., has been temporarily closed due to what the principal says is a spike in COVID-19 cases.

Fraser Health confirmed the outbreak at Promontory Heights Elementary on Thursday after 20 positive cases of the virus were diagnosed among staff and students.

A statement on the school's website says cases of COVID-19 have been climbing since the first week of school.

The announcement comes after provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry reversed the decision not to notify parents of single cases of COVID-19 in schools. She said parents and teachers from across the province wanted to be informed about any possible transmissions of the virus.

"We have asked our team to get together right now to make sure that we can notify schools in a timely, less intrusive and more sustainable way and that parents will have access to that information rapidly," Henry said Tuesday.

She said a new notification system is expected to be in place by the end of the week.

B.C. Teachers’ Federation president Teri Mooring also called for more safety measures in schools following news of the outbreak in Chilliwack.

"It’s time to put more safety measures in place as the BCTF has been calling for. A K-3 mask policy, comprehensive testing, contact tracing that involves teachers, and ventilation system upgrades or mitigations," she said in a statement on Twitter Wednesday.

Promontory Heights principal Chuck Bloch said in a statement that the school's medical health officer has ordered a halt to in-person learning to stem the spread of infections. He said online learning will be offered until the school's expected reopening on Oct. 3.

The Ministry of Health reported 759 new cases of COVID-19 in B.C. on Wednesday, with 5,458 active cases provincewide.

The Fraser Health authority, which includes Chilliwack, has the most active cases at 1,734, followed closely by Interior Health, which has 1,223.

"It is critically important for people living in the Fraser Health region to get tested as soon as you have COVID-19-like symptoms, even mild ones. Please don't wait," Fraser Health said in a statement Thursday.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 23, 2021.

The Canadian Press

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