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Posts Tagged "schools"

27May

Masks won’t be required in B.C. schools, Dr. Bonnie Henry says

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VANCOUVER —
More students will be returning to schools in B.C. next week, and while many new safety measures are being put in place, requiring masks won’t be among them.

B.C.’s provincial health officer, Dr. Bonnie Henry, said during her briefing Tuesday that wearing face masks will be optional for those who want to protect others. 

“We don’t see non-medical masks as being required on an ongoing basis in that setting,” Henry said. “The other measures that we have in place are the most important ones.”

Henry said only small numbers of students will be together in classrooms and they’re not expected to be mixing together. For younger students, Henry said it’s also important to emphasize hand hygiene and that they can’t touch each other.

“Those are the things that we’re focusing on. We know that there are some people who are not able to wear a non-medical mask, whether for medical reasons or for reasons of disability,” she said. 

“They are an extra tool that can be layered on above other things but it’s not something that we would require.”

Instead, Henry said masks can be helpful when it’s not possible to maintain a safe physical distance from others. 

When students do return to class part time on June 1, class sizes will be reduced and extra cleaning protocols will be in place. As well, lunch breaks, recesses and pick-up times will be staggered. 

5Mar

Two B.C. post-secondary schools close over COVID-19 case

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A student tries to enter University Canada West in Vancouver on Thursday. The school is closing for three days for disinfection after two students were potentially exposed to the new coronavirus.


Jason Payne / PNG

COVID-19 could be a “gut shot” to B.C. schools and universities that rely on fees from international students, an immigration expert said Thursday, as two private post-secondary schools in Vancouver closed their doors because of a case of the novel coronavirus.

University Canada West said a student is in quarantine after being visited by her father. The father tested positive for COVID-19 after arriving from overseas for a visit and developing symptoms, according to Dr. Bonnie Henry, the provincial health officer. The student’s roommate is also in quarantine.

The business school and an arts and design school in the same building on West Pender Street will be closed for three days to do a deep cleaning.

“Students and staff who may have been in close contact with the affected students have been identified and contacted with information and advice,” said a UCW media release.

B.C. schools and universities said the coronavirus outbreak hasn’t significantly affected their international student programs, but administrators are monitoring the situation with an eye toward September enrolment.

At Simon Fraser University, a university-wide planning group is looking at possible impacts from the virus, including finances, said Angela Wilson, senior director of media relations and public affairs. SFU has not seen declining enrolment since visa offices have been closed in China and Iran, but they are monitoring the situation closely.

UBC has not seen any enrolment drops, but the situation is constantly evolving, said the director of university affairs, Matthew Ramsey.

UBC is working with prospective international students on a “case by case basis” to help those who may be experiencing difficulties getting their applications together, extending some deadlines to the end of March.

Ramsey could not say how many applications have been affected. UBC typically doesn’t have solid enrolment numbers until November.

“We are watching this really, really carefully,” he said about the virus, adding the university is following the advice of Canadian health authorities, including the B.C. Centre for Disease Control.

In January, UBC created a working group of people from across campus to discuss issues related to the virus, including how classes and exams might be offered using technology if attendance was no longer advisable.

Impacts on the Vancouver school district’s international student program “are minimal at present,” according to a statement provided to Postmedia.

“VSB programs are linear and the majority of international students arrive in August to study here. Given our enrolment timelines, it’s too early to provide enrolment details (for the) next school year.”

But Vancouver immigration lawyer Richard Kurland said the coronavirus should be a concern for schools and universities as the closure of some Canadian visa application centres abroad will make it difficult for students hoping to attend school here.

“Canadian schools are about to experience a cash crunch,” he said. “Stopping the visa application centres is like shutting off the water flow. They might not feel it yet, but it’s coming.”

Kurland said international students who are currently studying in Canada may not be able to return home. Students are not allowed to work more than 20 hours per week off campus.

“That should be lifted immediately. They should be entitled to work to support themselves,” he said.

Several school districts have cancelled field trips because of the virus, including Vancouver, Surrey and Burnaby. Overseas trips have been cancelled as well as those to New York City, Seattle, Burlington and Vancouver, Washington.

Also this week, the annual Asia-Pacific Association for International Education conference scheduled to be held in Vancouver later this month was postponed to March 2021. More than 2,500 people were registered to attend, said a news release.

In 2018, the B.C. government said the province had attracted more foreign students per capita than anywhere else in Canada — 130,000 in total — stating they inject $2 billion each year into the economy, creating 29,000 jobs.

In 2016, 28 per cent of UBC’s first-year contingent were foreign students.

A report on B.C. international students published in 2018 found that 13.7 per cent of post-secondary students in B.C. in 2016-17 were from outside Canada, as well as 7.7 per cent of the graduating Grade 12s. China (38 per cent) and India (21 per cent) were the two main sources of international students studying in B.C.

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With Postmedia files

gluymes@postmedia.com

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12Sep

Surrey teen’s cardiac arrest leaves family pleading for defibrillators in schools

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The sound of a phone ringing has put Surrey resident Esmeralda Gomez on edge for weeks.

Back in July, she received the kind of call every parent dreads. Her son Alex had been rushed to hospital after collapsing at the gym.

“It was the worst feeling,” Gomez said. “We got the phone call saying your son has collapsed, he may not make it so you need to get over here.”

Alex, who was then just 14 years old, had unexpectedly gone into cardiac arrest. He would spend the next 12 hours in a coma.

And Gomez said her son might not have survived at all if it hadn’t been for the lifeguards from an adjoining pool who rushed into the gym, used an automated external defibrillator (AED) on him and then performed CPR.

“The doctors at (BC Children’s Hospital) said if he didn’t have the AED machine used, he wouldn’t be here today,” Gomez said.

Before the incident, the family had no reason to suspect there was anything wrong with Alex. They described him as an athletic high schooler who played competitive soccer.

To their dismay, the cause of his episode is still unclear almost two months later.

“Tests all come back normal. They can’t find anything so we’re waiting for the genetic tests to come back,” Gomez said.

In the meantime, they’re terrified he could suffer another cardiac arrest somewhere that doesn’t have the kind of life-saving technology that spared their family a tragedy the first time – including at his school.

“We were extremely shocked to find out the school didn’t carry an AED machine,” Gomez said. “North Van has them, Coquitlam has them, why not Surrey?”

The provincial government doesn’t currently require schools across the province to stock an AED, something Gomez would like to see changed. The Ministry of Education told CTV News it follows the advice of B.C.’s provincial health officer, who currently supports the installation of AEDs in schools where there are children or staff with medical conditions that could require them.

There is also a private member’s bill in the works to create clear regulations around AEDs for the entire province, and to improve accessibility.

But the Surrey school district said for now, it’s facing issues around funding and maintenance.

“It’s not as simple as saying let’s put an AED in the school. I think there’s a number of things, a number of considerations outside the reach of the school district,” spokesperson Doug Strachan said.

Strachan promised the district will be addressing the situation with Gomez’s family, however.

“We will work with the family if there’s a need identified by a medical professional,” he said.

Gomez and her husband hope something will be done quickly. Experts caution that just 15 per cent of British Columbians who suffer cardiac arrest manage to survive.

“For every minute that goes by, your survival reduces by 10 per cent, so there’s really a small time frame where doing CPR and using an AED are extremely important,” said Gillian Wong of the Heart and Stroke Foundation.

8Jul

Mental health and addiction youth teams launched in Maple Ridge schools

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BC Minister of Mental Health and Addictions Judy Darcy.


Jason Payne / PNG Files

Students in the Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows School District will become the first to get team support, or so-called wraparound care, for those with mental health and addiction challenges.

Mental Health and Addictions Minister Judy Darcy says the integrated teams will work with schools and specialized service providers to offer complete care to students and their families.

Last month, the government announced its 10-year Pathway to Hope program aimed at helping and supporting young people with mental health and addiction challenges.

Darcy says the government has committed $2.5 billion for mental health and addiction services, and that includes $10 million in grants to non-profit groups to offer affordable counselling to youth and families.

The government said the teams will work with those experiencing challenges and their families won’t have to retell their stories to different care providers or search on their own for the supports they need.

Darcy says the new mental health and addiction services model will be implemented in the district by this 2019.

“It is very striking that with all the diversity of perspective and the diversity of experience, there was so much clarity on the way to go,” says Darcy, who made the announcement a Maple Ridge elementary school.

“The Pathway to Hope focuses on our most urgent priorities first, so that we’re helping people when they need it now and reducing demand on services down the road.”

After the government’s program announcement in June, a B.C. coroner’s jury examining the overdose death of 16-year-old Victoria-area youth Elliot Eurchuk called on government to improve early detection of mental health and substance use disorders within schools.


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20Mar

BC to launch measles catch-up campaign with shots at schools, clinics

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14Feb

Petition calls for mandatory vaccinations in B.C. schools

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An online petition is calling on the provincial government to make vaccinations mandatory in B.C. schools following a second reported case of measles in Vancouver, and an outbreak of that disease south of the border.

The petition, which as of Thursday afternoon had more than 1,800 signatures, asks Premier John Horgan to amend B.C.’s current enrolment policy to include mandatory vaccines except with medical exemption.

It was launched by Maple Ridge mom Katie Clunn, who says one concern people have is that they don’t want to give up their right to choose what is best for their family.


An online petition is calling on the B.C. government to make vaccines mandatory for B.C. school children.

Sean Gallup /

Getty Images

She says mandatory vaccines won’t force anyone to vaccinate because parents would have the choice to home school their children. She adds the move would protect the most vulnerable children, including those with compromised immune systems and babies who have not yet been vaccinated.

Clunn, who is pregnant with her third child, says she launched the petition not just out of concern for her own children but also on behalf of all the vulnerable children and adults with health concerns.

“If your child is going through chemo you should know how many kids haven’t been vaccinated,” she said Thursday. “Four year olds with leukaemia shouldn’t be scared to visit their friends at school.”


Katie Clunn, a Maple Ridge mother, has started a petition to ask the government to make vaccines mandatory in schools.

She notes that schools protect kids with allergies, for example, by banning peanuts, something Clunn says she wholeheartedly supports, but don’t protect kids who are at risk of developing a preventable disease like measles.

She hopes the government will take note of the deadly outbreak in Europe and the state of emergency in Washington and reconsider making vaccines mandatory at schools.

Postmedia requested an interview with the chief medical health officer; however, a spokeswoman with the Ministry of Health said Dr. Bonnie Henry was unavailable Thursday.

“You are always entitled to choice, but you are not exempt from the consequences of your choices. We cannot send unvaccinated (children) to school for the safety of those who can’t be vaccinated, as well as for the safety of those who won’t vaccinate,” said Clunn.

What do you think? Should parents have to show proof of vaccines before school enrolment?

On Wednesday, Vancouver Coastal Health confirmed a second case of measles in Vancouver in a week. The news comes as there is an outbreak of measles in Washington State, where 54 cases of the disease have been confirmed. Gov. Jay Inslee has declared a state of emergency because of the outbreak.

At least eight people have died in Ukraine, where 53,000 cases have been reported. The skyrocketing measles rates there are believed to be due to vaccine refusal as well as a temporary breakdown in vaccine orders by the government.

In Vancouver, health officials said the latest case was transmitted locally, and confirmed that the person is a school-age child.

The first case, acquired abroad, was confirmed on Saturday.

Last year, six cases were confirmed across B.C., up from a single case in 2017 and two cases in 2016, according to the B.C. Centre for Disease Control.

B.C. last experienced a measles outbreak in 2014, when 343 cases were reported, most of them linked to an outbreak in a religious community that objects to vaccination.

The World Health Organization named “vaccine hesitancy” one of its top 10 threats to global health in 2019. Measles saw a 30 per cent increase in cases globally between 2016 and 2017, and a resurgence in some countries that were close to eliminating it, according to the organization.

Ontario and New Brunswick have mandatory immunizations with exceptions and proof must be shown at the time of school enrolment.

ticrawford@postmedia.com

With files from Nick Eagland and The Associated Press


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5Dec

South Surrey high schools crack down on lunch delivery apps

by admin

Packed bag lunches might sometimes fail to inspire, but at least the high school principal won’t complain about them.

The same can’t be said for the food delivery apps that are growing in popularity at some South Surrey high schools.

In recent weeks, the administration at Semiahmoo and Elgin Park secondary schools have had to impose restrictions on apps like Skip the Dishes, as deliveries from local restaurants became more disruptive.

“The day we started noticing it, I think we had five deliveries within about an hour — and it was all outside of lunch,” said Semiahmoo principal James Johnston. “So we started really watching for it more and more.” 

Johnston said students were asking their teachers if they could leave class to use the washroom or get something out of their lockers, but in fact they were picking up food delivery.

“Some of our teachers would notice it was taking maybe 10 minutes for them to come back, and some of the students would even come back with their food,” he said.

That’s when it became a problem.

Dozens of students getting daily lunch deliveries

At Semiahmoo Secondary, there’s a large group of students who take part in daily lunch deliveries organized on Chinese language app WeChat.

But Johnston said that hasn’t been a disruption — the deliveries are well-organized and students, often in the dozens, meet the driver just off school grounds during the lunch break.

At nearby Elgin Park Secondary school, the same service only recently came to principal Jeff Johnstone’s attention. He noticed a huge group of students in the parking lot, and rushed out, assuming students were involved in a fight.

But when he got close, Johnstone realized a delivery driver was distributing dozens of lunches and taking payment.

According to Elgin’s principal, between 50 and 80 students get lunch delivered each day. He spoke with the delivery service and they agreed to do their business just off school grounds. 

Johnstone complains about the garbage and food waste he notices with the delivery, but he said it’s not a huge concern. He said fewer problems have arisen with apps like Skip the Dishes, but he worries his students aren’t adequately tipping drivers.

Ban draws variety of views from students

Back at Semiahmoo Secondary, students have mixed reactions to a recent ban on Skip the Dishes deliveries.

“A couple weeks ago they put an announcement and it was super serious,” said Ben Rodericks, a Grade 12 student. “And it ends up that the guy on the speaker goes, ‘No more ordering Skip the Dishes. This is a huge problem at our school right now.”

Rodericks said the students used to order the food to one of the side doors and try to sneak it in, but school officials “caught on really fast to that.” 

Ratik Kaushal, a friend of Rodericks, said all the students are trying to do is eat. 

“I just think it’s outrageous that they’re trying to regulate such things,” Kaushal said.

Grade 11 student Pill Kiang admitted the disruption had gotten bad before the ban. 

“The problem with Skip the Dishes is they don’t get the location that specific,” Kiang said. “It’s hard to communicate with no phone calls.”

Kiang regularly takes part in the organized group order through WeChat, but hasn’t relied on Skip the Dishes. He said he noticed dozens of orders arriving at the school each week.

CBC News requested an interview with Skip the Dishes, but the company declined, replying with a brief emailed statement instead. 

“We aren’t aware of any specific issues with deliveries to high schools,” the statement read. “However, we believe that schools and principals can be empowered to set the rules related to food deliveries as they deem appropriate.”


Follow Rafferty Baker on Twitter: @raffertybaker




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