VICTORIA — An independent school in B.C.'s Fraser Health region has suspended classes after a staff member tested positive for COVID-19.
The individual held a variety of roles at the school, including teacher, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said at a news conference on Thursday.
But Henry allayed concerns about the possible effect on children, adding that she spoke about the possibility of a positive COVID-19 test at a school when they first reopened.
"This is not unexpected," she said. "When we went into opening up the in-classroom schools at the beginning of June we were paying attention to this and that it was very possible somebody would bring the virus to the school setting with them."
The positive case doesn't change the province's risk assessment of opening schools, Henry added. She has previously discussed the low COVID-19 transmission rates among children as part of the evidence for reopening schools.
British Columbia announced eight new cases of COVID-19 and no new deaths on Thursday, bringing the total number of cases to 2,783.
The province has only had one death from COVID-19 in the past 12 days.
Health Minister Adrian Dix also announced that staff at all 501 senior care homes and other health-care facilities in B.C. are now working at single sites, months after Henry issued an order to do so.
The order was put in place, in part, as a way to control infection rates as outbreaks at care homes mounted.
But the attempt to limit the movement of staff members faced complications because it meant dealing with different operators and wage rates, Dix said.
"Other jurisdictions and others have understood, I think now, the importance of what we're trying to do," he said.
Wage increases as a result of the changes will be retroactive, Dix added.
Dix didn't expand on the cost of the program, adding that he had initially estimated it would cost $10 million per month and he would provide a further briefing on the expense in the coming weeks.
Henry acknowledged the impact restricting access to long term care homes has had on family members during the pandemic.
"We know the conditions are such that if the virus gets into those settings, it can spread undetected very rapidly and that has led to so much of the deaths we have seen," she said.
"We understand that the restrictions on visitors in particular comes at a very high cost."
— By Nick Wells in Vancouver.
This report was first published by the Canadian Press on June 18, 2020.
The Canadian Press