Responding to recent cases of COVID-19 confirmed at Shuswap schools, School District 83 Superintendent Peter Jory has asked staff and the public to be vigilant when it comes to the practice of good behaviours that help prevent the virus’ spread. (File photo)

Responding to recent cases of COVID-19 confirmed at Shuswap schools, School District 83 Superintendent Peter Jory has asked staff and the public to be vigilant when it comes to the practice of good behaviours that help prevent the virus’ spread. (File photo)

COVID-19: North Okanagan-Shuswap school communities asked to be vigilant

Superintendent Peter Jory responds to increasing COVID-19 numbers at schools.

With COVID-19 confirmed at several North Okanagan-Shuswap schools, superintendent Peter Jory is asking staff, and school communities, to buckle down on the good behaviours taught early on in the pandemic.

Since mid-December, School District 83 has responded to cases of the virus at schools in Ranchero, Sicamous and Enderby. Over the past week, the virus was detected among Salmon ARm school communities at South Canoe Elementary, Salmon Arm Secondary’s Sullivan campus, Bastion Elementary, Salmon Arm West Elementary School and Shuswap Middle School.

The number of cases at South Canoe Elementary prompted the school district to close the building until the end of January and move students to online learning.

This is the first time the virus has forced the closure of a school in SD83 since the province shut down schools in spring 2020. Jory noted the situation at South Canoe seemed to be easing on Thursday, Jan. 14, but quickly changed the following day when more people tested positive for the virus.

“We were a little surprised Friday to get the news… and also that we were not able to have a full roster at the school between regular staff and replacement,” said Jory. “Some of us from the central office went there to help out and then, over the course of the day, we of course learned about other exposures, and there was more through the weekend, and it looks like shutting down temporarily and going on line has been a very good decision.”

Jory explained the closure of schools in the spring provided many valuable lessons for the school district and the ministry of education. One of those lessons involved the impact on students and families.

Read more: COVID-19 case reported at Salmon Arm West Elementary

Read more: COVID-19 virus returns to Salmon Arm Secondary campus

Read more: UPDATE: Salmon Arm school to close temporarily after COVID-19 cases confirmed

“If we knew then what we know now, we wouldn’t have closed – It was premature,” said Jory, explaining that in addition to the loss of learning in classroom settings, closing schools has a significant impact on mental health.

“So as much as it’s safer, there’s quite a significant cost to it, and I can tell you the provincial government is very reluctant to go there again.

“That being said, when we have our short term transitions to online learning, we’re much better prepared for those.”

While the school district has already bumped up its cleaning protocols, those facilities where cases have been confirmed are receiving additional attention.

“I think we’re still spending $25,000 a week more in custodial than we did prior to the pandemic, and that’s a significant difference,” said Jory. “And our protocols for the most part have been followed quite closely.”

In addition, Jory said he’s asked school district staff to be extra vigilant about washing hands, wearing masks and maintaining physical distance. He asked the broader community do the same.

“When you have a pandemic, and it’s happening in other places… but not here, it’s probably normal to relax a little bit and that’s just human nature,” said Jory. “For nine months it really was elsewhere, but now it’s here and so it’s very important for people to remember those good behaviours, those good habits.”

Jory also stressed the importance of timely transparency, and getting information out to staff and the public as quickly as possible.

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

#Salmon ArmSchools

Just Posted

Armstrong Regional Co-op board members Brett Kirkpatrick (left) and Robbie Hoyte (right) flank Scott John of the Okanagan Screen Arts Society. The co-op donated $2,500 to the society for its Save the Towne Theatre campaign. (ARC photo)
North Okanagan-Shuswap cooperative contributes to Vernon theatre campaign

Armstrong Regional Co-op kicks in $2,500 for Okanagan Screen Arts Society’s Save the Towne Theatre campaign

Sicamous RCMP Sgt. Murray McNeil and Cpl. Wade Fisher present Cody Krabbendam of Ranchero with an award for bravery on July 22, 2020. (Contributed)
Shuswap boy receives medal of bravery, scholarship for rescue at Sicamous beach

Last summer Cody Krabbendam jumped into the lake to save another boy from drowning

A young Sicamous Canada Day parade-goer is awed by a colourful float filled with beloved Disney characters during the July 1, 2020 community event. (File photo)
Editorial: Now is the time for Sicamous to shine

Shuswap community might be just what people who work from home are looking for

Greyhound Canada announced May 13 it was closing operations permanently after more than a century of operation. (Black Press file photo)
COLUMN: Goodbye to a never forgotten friend

Greyhound bus trips played a big role in columnist’s life

Someone or something is vandalizing birdhouses built and erected along Salmon Arm’s Foreshore Trail, much to the chagrin of a Shuswap biologist who looks after the houses. All but one of 32 along the trail are occupied. (Facebook photo)
Ongoing birdhouse vandalism rocks Shuswap trail, groups

Eight more boxes were destroyed Saturday, May 15

Daily confirmed COVID-19 cases reported to B.C. public health, seven-day rolling average in white, to May 12, 2021. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C. preparing ‘Restart 2.0’ from COVID-19 as June approaches

Daily infections fall below 500 Friday, down to 387 in hospital

File photo (Aaron Hemens/Capital News)
Overturned kayak in Kelowna creek prompts police response

Kelowna RCMP is looking to speak with anyone who may know the individual associated with the kayak

Penticton city parks staff were busy this week using the beach grater to sift through sand, getting the shores ready for beach season. When it comes to beach clean up they are collecting run-off debris, pulling weeds and picking up litter. (Penticton photo)
Hottest day of the year, so far, in the South Okanagan

Penticton city park staff cleaned up the beaches getting ready for the season

This is what the glowing boulders look like at night at 28 Huth Ave. (Submitted)
PHOTOS: Glowing boulders popping up in the Okanagan

Local landscaper Brandon Messier also brought the Lost statue to its new home

Coldstream Fire Department is on-scene Sunday, May 16, battling a fire in a Matner Lane orchard just up the hill from the firehall on Aberdeen Road. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)
Okanagan fire crew tackles orchard blaze

Fire broke out just before 2 p.m. on Matner Lane, which is just up the hill from the Coldstream firehall on Aberdeen Road

A drug bust on Government Street in Duncan on Tuesday, March 30, led to a "substantial seizure" according to the North Cowichan/Duncan RCMP. (File photo)
Search continues for diver who went missing in Okanagan Lake

Emergency crews continue to search for the 52-year-old who didn’t resurface Saturday

A vial of AstraZeneca vaccine is seen at a mass COVID-19 vaccination clinic in Calgary, Alta., Thursday, April 22, 2021. Dr. Ben Chan remembers hearing the preliminary reports back in March of blood clots appearing in a handful of European recipients of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Science on COVID, VITT constantly changing: A look at how doctors keep up

While VITT can represent challenges as a novel disorder, blood clots themselves are not new

Poached trees that were taken recently on Vancouver Island in the Mount Prevost area near Cowichan, B.C. are shown on Sunday, May 10, 2021. Big trees, small trees, dead trees, softwoods and hardwoods have all become valuable targets of tree poachers in British Columbia as timber prices hit record levels. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jen Osborne.
Tree poaching from public forests increasing in B.C. as lumber hits record prices

Prices for B.C. softwood lumber reached $1,600 for 1,000 board feet compared with about $300 a year ago

Most Read