British Columbia

Kelowna school closes until Nov. 4 due to COVID-19 outbreak

Kelowna's École de l'Anse-au-sable, the site of B.C.'s first school outbreak of COVID-19, will close until Nov. 4 after almost a dozen staff and students tested positive and 160 more are in isolation.

École de l'Anse-au-sable closing due to staff shortage as 11 people test positive and 160 are isolating

École de l’Anse-au-sable in Kelowna is the site of B.C.'s first COVID-19 outbreak in the school system. (Winston Szeto/CBC)

Kelowna's École de l'Anse-au-sable, the site of B.C.'s first school outbreak of COVID-19, will close until Nov. 4 after almost a dozen staff and students tested positive and 160 more are in isolation.

Parents found out about the closure on Sunday in a letter from Michel St-Amant, the superintendent of School District 93, which oversees all of B.C.'s French-language schools.

The letter did not explicitly say why the school is closing for a week and a half, but parent advisory council president Julien Gibon said it's because there are not enough staff to keep the school open.

"It's not easy to be the first school in B.C. to have to close due to COVID-19 cases inside, but we are a very strong community and we can help each other at going through that," he said.

As of Friday, 11 staff and students at the school — which covers kindergarten through Grade 12 —  have tested positive for COVID-19. A further 160 people may have been exposed and have been ordered to isolate for 14 days. 

Students and staff were exposed Oct. 13, 14 and 15, according to Interior Health.

Interior Health's Dr. Kamran Golmohammadi, who is managing the school outbreak response, said Friday it could still be a few days before all cases associated with the outbreak come to light, since it can take up to 14 days before symptoms appear. 

Last week, St-Amant said it was possible the school would have to close at some point because of a shortage of staff.

In the letter to parents on Sunday, St-Amant asked parents to continue to monitor their children's health every day.

The news came last minute for parents on Sunday, but Gibon said the school community is doing what it can to help parents — many who are working from home — find options for child care. 

"We are offering more help as the PAC to the parents if they need anything that we can support," Gibon said. 

"But we understand it's an emergency."

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