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UPDATED: Principal isolated as Coquitlam area schools grapple with dramatic spike in COVID-19 cases

Now more than 30 schools in Port Moody, Port Coquitlam, Coquitlam and Anmore are under investigation for COVID-19 exposure, mostly during the week of Feb. 8-12 as Port Moody hockey association pauses games, practices for a week

Here’s your latest update on school coronavirus cases in School District 43, which includes Coquitlam, Port Coquitlam, Port Moody, Anmore and Belcarra.

Check back here for more updates. See below for current list and map of COVID-19 cases in the area.

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Seven more Coquitlam and Port Coquitlam schools have received COVID-19 exposure notices amidst a surge of coronavirus cases in recent days.

And a Port Moody elementary school is one of dozens of Tri-City public and private schools coping with COVID-19 cases this week, resulting in the isolation of a school principal and many students at home from school.

BC Covid Tracker has confirmed that Maple Creek in Port Coquitlam had an exposure Feb. 11, 12, and notices were sent to parents at Coquitlam schools Smiling Creek (Feb. 8, 9, 10) and Lord Baden Powell Feb. 12.

As well, letters have been sent to Dr. Charles Best, Feb. 12, Gleneagle secondary, Feb. 12, Panorama Heights, Feb. 11,12, and Eagle Ridge elementary, Feb. 9, in Coquitlam and Castle Park elementary, Feb. 12, which is located in Port Coquitlam.

One Port Moody school, meanwhile, is dealing with a COVID-19 cluster.

Fraser Health has confirmed Mountain Meadows elementary at 999 Noons Creek Dr. has had a COVID-19 cluster, which is when when in-school transmission is believed to have occurred between two or more individuals with laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 who attended the same school within a 14 day period.

However, the school has not been ordered to close and Fraser Health hasn't asked classes to isolate, according to a spokesperson.

Meanwhile, the school's principal, Heather Birnie is isolating for 14 days, according to a letter to parents.

In the meantime, administrators from Pinetree secondary and the school board offices have been deployed to help with her duties until she returns.

The news comes as Fraser Health is investigating COVID-19 cases at several schools in Coquitlam, Port Coquitlam, Port Moody and Anmore, including francophone and private schools, with the exposure cases appearing to spike last week, according to the health authority’s school exposure web portal.

At the same time, Port Moody Amateur Hockey Association made the decision last week to pause all hockey activities. On its website, the hockey association says it is taking a break in hockey activities until today, Wednesday, Feb. 17. 

While not stating that COVID-19 is the reason, the association states it is taking the measure to minimize risk for players, staff and groups.

“This is a voluntary decision taken by PMAHA after carefully considering the relevant factors. Although the pause has not been mandated by Public Health Authorities, PMAHA believes that it is the most appropriate measure in order to minimize risk for players, staff and user groups; and to ensure that we are able to finish the season strongly after a short break,” the website sates.

WHAT IS AN EXPOSURE?

A school “exposure” indicates a single person with a lab-confirmed COVID-19 infection attended school during their infectious period. 

A school “cluster,” on the other hand, indicates possible school-based transmission with two or more lab-confirmed cases of COVID-19 attending school while infectious. 

Finally, an “outbreak” at a school means “multiple individuals with lab-confirmed COVID-19 infection” and that “transmission is likely widespread.” 

So far there haven’t been any outbreaks in School District 43.

NEW SCHOOL COVID-19 GUIDELINES

The uptick in exposures comes two weeks after Education Minister Jennifer Whiteside and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry announced tougher COVID-19 guidelines for schools.

All middle and secondary students, as well as K-12 staff, will be required to wear non-medical masks in all indoor areas, including when they are with their learning groups. 

The only exceptions are when sitting or standing at their seat or workstation in a classroom, where there is a barrier in place, or while they are eating or drinking.

Previously, masks were only required for these groups in high-traffic areas, like hallways and outside of classrooms or learning groups when they could not safely distance from others.

High-intensity physical activities are to be held outside as much as possible — if required indoors, two metres of spacing is needed for activities. 

Shared equipment, including gym equipment, or musical instruments, must be sanitized between use and choir groups will have to wear masks when singing.

SCHOOL EXPOSURE LIST

Here’s the list of school exposures current to Feb. 18, 2021.

SCHOOL EXPOSURE LIST

Here’s the list of school exposures current to Feb. 18, 2021.

PORT COQUITLAM

1. Central elementary - Feb. 2, 3, 4, 5

2. Glen elementary - Feb. 10, 11

3. Irvine elementary - Feb. 3, 4

4. Kwayhquitlum middle - Jan. 28; Feb. 1, 4, 5

5. Terry Fox secondary - Feb. 3, 4, 5

6. James Park elementary - Feb. 1, 2, 3, 4, 9

7. Leigh elementary - Feb. 8, 9,

8. Archbishop Carney (Private) - Feb. 10

9. Ecole des Pionniers (Francophone) - Feb. 8, 9, 10 

10. Maple Creek middle - Feb. 11, 12 

11. Castle Park - Feb. 12

COQUITLAM 

1. Baker Drive elementary -  Feb. 8

2. Eagle Ridge elementary - Feb. 10, 11

3. Gleneagle secondary - Feb. 8, 9,10

4. Eagle Ridge elementary - Feb. 10, 11

5. Gleneagle secondary - Feb. 8, 9,10

6. Ecole Banting - Feb. 8

7. Montgomery middle - Feb. 4, 5

8. Pinetree secondary - Feb. 5, 10

9. Panorama Heights Feb. 8, 9,10, 11

10. R.C. MacDonald elementary - Feb. 3, 4, 5, 8

11. Walton elementary - Feb. 10, 11 

12. Scott Creek - Feb. 8, 11

13. CABE - Feb. 8, 9, 10, 11

14. Winslow Learning Centre - Feb. 12

15. Our Lady of Fatima Coquitlam (Private) - Feb. 8, 9,  

16. Lord Baden Powell, Feb. 12 

17. Smiling Creek Feb. 8, 9, 10 

18. Charles Best, Feb. 12

19. Gleneagle Feb. 12

12. Panorama Heights, Feb. 11, 12

13. Eagle Ridge elementary Feb. 9

PORT MOODY 

1. Aspenwood elementary - Feb. 8, 9, 10

2. Glenayre elementary - Feb. 8, 9,10, 11, 12

3. Heritage Woods secondary - Feb. 3, 8, 9, 10,11,12

4. Mountain Meadows elementary - Feb. 4, 5, 8, 9,10, 11

5. Moody elementary - Feb. 9,10

ANMORE

1. Eagle Mountain middle school - Feb. 3, 8, 9, 10, 11

— With files from Stefan Labbé

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