Nanaimo District Secondary School. (News Bulletin file photo)

Nanaimo District Secondary School. (News Bulletin file photo)

Fire drill didn’t spread COVID-19, says Island school district

Cases reported at Nanaimo District Secondary, but no transmission of virus there

COVID-19 cases are rising in Nanaimo and that includes in schools, but a fire drill at NDSS last week wasn’t any kind of super-spreader event, says SD68.

Nanaimo Ladysmith Public Schools reported new COVID-19 cases at NDSS four separate times over the last two weeks, as the secondary is one of seven schools in the district currently on Island Health’s school exposures list.

There was a fire drill at Nanaimo District Secondary School on Feb. 4, but as of a week later, there has been nothing to suggest the drill led to COVID-19 transmission, said SD68 spokesman Dale Burgos.

He noted that while COVID clusters have been reported at three Nanaimo schools, NDSS isn’t one of them, meaning that public health’s contact tracing hasn’t identified spread of the virus happening at that school.

While Burgos acknowledged community concern about the fire drill spreading COVID-19, he said he hasn’t heard school administrators express concern about continuing with fire drills during the pandemic. B.C.’s Fire Services Act mandates six fire drills per school year, and last week’s drill at NDSS was the fourth of 2020-21.

Burgos said the school followed protocols.

“Schools received direction from our safety and wellness team before [holding drills] and it was stressed that they have to make sure it’s done in a safe manner, following the restrictions, staying in your learning groups,” Burgos said.

He added that he thinks fire drills are very important and should continue to happen.

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Nanaimo District Secondary School’s COVID-19 exposure dates were Jan. 27-28, Feb. 1-3 and Feb. 5. Schools with clusters, meaning that transmission happened there, include Rock City and Bayview elementaries and Qwam Qwum Stuwixwulh School. Other SD68 schools that have had cases the past two weeks include John Barsby and Ladysmith secondaries and Brechin Elementary.

Scott Saywell, Nanaimo-Ladysmith superintendent, said in a video message last week that schools mirror communities, and while exposures continue to happen, “we’re still seeing lower transmission rates inside our schools.” He said safety of students and staff remains the district’s top priority, and added that cleaning of high-touch points and disinfecting will continue to happen in every building in the district as long as is required.

READ ALSO: Stay informed about COVID-19



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