UPDATE: 4 p.m., Friday, Jan. 15
In response to several cases of COVID-19 having been confirmed at South Canoe Elementary, School District 83 has agreed to close the school for one to two weeks.
The decision to close the school came after discussion with the school’s staff, Interior Health and the Ministry of Education, explained school district Superintendent Peter Jory in a letter to staff, parents and guardians.
Jory said it was determined to be in the best interest of the school community to shift to remote learning, starting Jan. 18.
“We ask you to keep students home during this time,” said Jory, adding this transition will be assessed every few days as information becomes available regarding further covid exposures and the availability of staff.
“I understand teachers have already begun to prepare learning packages, and that they will continue to organize learning opportunities that will commence as soon as is practicable next week,” said Jory. “Principal Jared King will be in further communication with you as necessary, and will keep you informed around the return to regular learning.”
Jory thanked staff, parents and guardians for their patience and support, and commended King and school staff for making sure students were properly cared for.
“Please know that I am keenly aware of the pressures such temporary closures can cause for families, and that these decisions are not made without serious consideration,” said Jory.
UPDATE: 12:23 p.m., Friday, Jan. 15
Two more cases of COVID-19 were confirmed among the school community at South Canoe Outdoor Learning School. An update has been sent to parents.
School District #83 is considering a temporary closure of a Salmon Arm elementary school in response to two confirmed cases of COVID-19.
On Thursday evening, Jan. 14, South Canoe Outdoor Learning School parents received an automated call from the school district advising them to check their email for a letter from the school. The letter from, principal Jared King, explained a second case of the virus had been confirmed at the school, a certified education assistant.
“We wish our staff member a speedy and safe recovery and want her to know our thoughts are with her and her family,” said King. “As with my case, she will be self-isolating and working with Interior Health with contact tracing to make sure that those who may have been exposed are contacted.”
The previous day, King sent letters to parents and staff stating he had tested positive for the virus and would be self-isolating.
“I want to assure you that everything is being done to make sure that students and staff are safe at school and we are working with Interior Health on tracing, etc.,” said King in one of the Jan. 13 letters.
In Thursday’s update, King explained that with two covid cases confirmed in the school community, staff was considering moving all students to online learning for the next week or so.
“Superintendent Peter Jory, the Ministry and I will be discussing this option tomorrow and will let you know by the end of the day (Friday) if that is the plan moving forward,” said King, asking that parents make arrangements for child care should the school proceed with the online option.
“The school will be remain open tomorrow (Friday, Jan. 15); however, if keeping your child home is an option you may certainly choose to do that. If students are at school, they will be outside a lot and physical distancing will be maintained.”
Interior Health has been working with the school and is conducting contact tracing. King asks that if you are contacted by Interior Health, that you follow their advice.
If you are not contacted by Interior Health Authority, it has been determined that you (if you are a staff member) or your child (if you are a parent/guardian) is not at risk of developing COVID-19, the letter reads.
“I know that all of this is extremely difficult for everyone, and was not what we wanted to happen,” said King. “But I want to let people know that I have seen this school community’s true colours come to light with your outpouring of love and concern for me and my family, and for those staff members who continue to work hard at this time. Please know it’s not easy for them.”
South Canoe is the fifth Shuswap school to have reported a confirmed case of COVID-19.
On Monday, Jan. 11, parents of Parkview Elementary students in Sicamous were informed that a member of the school community there had tested positive for COVID-19. This came on the heels of a Jan. 6 notification to parents that a case of the virus had been confirmed at Eagle River Secondary, also in Sicamous. Cases of COVID-19 were also confirmed at Ranchero Elementary in December and Salmon Arm Secondary’s Sullivan campus in November. The latter two cases and the one at Eagle River Secondary are no longer on Interior Health’s list of school exposures.
Anyone with concerns regarding COVID-19 is asked to call HealthLink BC at 811.