British Columbia

Teacher makes complaint to WorkSafeBC after testing positive for COVID-19

The Sentinel Secondary teacher reached out to West Vancouver Teachers' Association for help after she realized that a student in her Grade 12 class had tested positive for the disease, the association president says.

Student in class had previously contracted disease, teachers' association says

Students at Sentinel Secondary in West Vancouver, B.C. A teacher at the school reached out to the West Vancouver Teachers' Association for help after she realized that a student in her Grade 12 class had tested positive for the disease, according to the association's president. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

A teacher at a West Vancouver, B.C., high school has made a complaint to WorkSafeBC after she contracted COVID-19 following a positive test for a student in her classroom, according to the city's teachers' association.

The Sentinel Secondary teacher reached out to West Vancouver Teachers' Association for help after she realized that a student in her Grade 12 class had tested positive for the disease, according to association president Renée Willock.

On Saturday, Sentinel principal Michael Finch sent out a warning to the school community about potential exposure after a positive case was reported at the school. Sentinel Secondary confirmed to CBC on Tuesday that two members of the school community have tested positive and are self-isolating at home.

Willock says the teacher was contacted on Saturday by the infected student, who was concerned about his school work and wanted to continue studying online.

By Sunday, Willock said the teacher began feeling unwell. She tested positive for COVID-19 the same day.

"The teacher was very upset. Her first concern was for the academics of her students," said Willock.

"The teacher was not contact traced," she added.

Willock says she's asked the teacher not to give out her name or speak to the media, as she could face discipline for speaking out.

Between six to eight students who sat close to the infected student did not return to class, so it's assumed that they were notified and told to self-isolate, Willock said.

Other students in the class have remained in school with a substitute teacher.

Between six to eight students who sat close to the infected student did not return to class, so it's assumed that they were notified and told to self-isolate, West Vancouver Teachers' Association president Renée Willock said. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

'The rule book seems to be continuously changing'

Willock says there's concern among teachers about official health advice and communication.

Despite the principal's warning on Saturday, there was no mention of it on the Vancouver Coastal Health webpage listing school exposures on Monday, Willock said.

As well, she said many teachers are stressed by classroom crowding and the number of students who are attending school and appear to be sick.

It follows the recent removal of symptoms from the list that parents are supposed to check for when screening their students before they go to school.

"The rule book seems to be continuously changing," said Willock. "... The teachers are concerned that the protocols keep changing.

"We know that there are cases in our schools and yet the local health authority page says that there are none."

The potential exposure at Sentinel Secondary had been added to the Vancouver Coastal health webpage by Tuesday.

During her COVID-19 briefing on Monday, Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry addressed the consequences of infection within the classroom.

"Unless we start to see transmission within a classroom it would be very unlikely that an entire classroom would have to self-isolate... Even if you are in a classroom with somebody who has COVID, if you're sitting at a desk and you're not close to them, you've not had close contact with them," Henry said.

A Vancouver Coastal Health spokesperson referred CBC to Henry's comments Monday, and said they are looking into the matter. WorkSafeBC declined comment for privacy reasons.

About the Author

Yvette Brend is a Vancouver journalist. Yvette.Brend@cbc.ca or on Twitter or Instagram @ybrend

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