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Daily 'health checks' will be 'first line of defence' for B.C. schools

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A teenager wears a mask to prevent the spread of COVID-19 while at school. Photo: Getty Images

In anticipation of the return to school this fall, daily health checks for students, teachers, and anyone who wishes to enter school property, will be the best guard against transmission of COVID-19.

That's the word from provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry, who acknowledges the many layers of protective measures that will be implemented to keep schools safe cannot match the powerful simplicity of staying home when you're not well. 

"The number one thing that protects us ... is that every single day, every student, every adult who goes into the school, has to be assessed.

"That's really the important first line of defence that we have, and we know that works."

Some of the additional measures we are likely to see in school restart plans include physical distancing, staggered class and recess times and ventilation support. 

However, Dr. Henry says the exact implementation of COVID-19 precautions will differ depending on the school district or individual school. 

Public health has provided parameters of how to operate safely to parents, teachers, superintendents, principals and school districts. 

Past that point, it is their decision on how best to incorporate those parameters into an everyday learning situation. 

"Every school will be slightly different," says Dr. Henry. 

"It's like what we did for restaurants, where we put out the parameters and the restaurants came and said this is how we'll make it work in our setting, in our situation ... the layers are still there but the details need to be worked out - within every single school and every single school district." 

Further details will come out later this week as public health officials receive plans from each school district, Dr. Henry confirmed during Monday's (Aug. 24) COVID-19 media briefing.

She says despite valid fears held by parents and caregivers, it is important to keep in mind that not reopening schools could have a more detrimental impact on children and their learning. 

"We're all anxious, of course we are. We need to learn how to live with this virus."