Last month there was a COVID-19 variant at Maple Ridge’s Garibaldi secondary. (Neil Corbett/The News)

Last month there was a COVID-19 variant at Maple Ridge’s Garibaldi secondary. (Neil Corbett/The News)

COVID-19 rapid response teams to assist school districts

Little in-school transmission in Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows says Carreras

With an increasing number of COVID-19 variants showing up in B.C. schools, the education ministry has announced it will deploy six regional COVID-19 rapid response teams.

The teams will support K-12 schools and school districts with safety plans and exposure assessments.

“Rapid response teams are a critically important addition to the health and safety measures that are keeping schools safe for students and staff,” said Jennifer Whiteside, Minister of Education. “As the pandemic evolves, these teams will help us respond quickly and adapt, where necessary, to ensure best practices are being consistently applied throughout the education sector.”

The chair of the Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows School District said the protocols the district already has in place have been effective so far.

“Any additional support is always welcome,” said Korleen Carreras, adding she is looking forward to having the Surrey-based team to serve the Fraser Health region.

She said district staff have already been working hard to keep students and staff safe for close to a year already, and have limited the spread of the virus in schools.

“We have seen very, very little, if any, in-school transmission,” said Carreras.

READ ALSO: B.C. reports 438 new COVID cases, 2 deaths; Dr. Henry defends vaccine plan

Rapid response teams have representatives from school and public health staff. The teams will:

• Work with school, school district and health authority staff to review significant school exposure events, make recommendations and support schools to enhance their safety plans when needed.

• Review school or district COVID-19 safety plans and related policies.

• Support schools with their implementation and safety plans, as well as communications to students, staff and families.

• Conduct school safety assessments.

READ ALSO: Nearly 1 million COVID-19 vaccine doses arriving in Canada this week

The province is investing $900,000 in federal funding to support one team for each health authority and one dedicated to support independent schools.

In Fraser Health, there is also an existing COVID-19 Intake Hub working closely with school districts in the region to respond to exposures.

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