A Grade 8 student at L.A. Matheson Secondary. March 2021. (Photo: Lauren Collins)

A Grade 8 student at L.A. Matheson Secondary. March 2021. (Photo: Lauren Collins)

Teachers demand ‘urgent action’ as parts of Surrey see 20% positivity rate

26 schools in the hardest-hit region of the city had 105 exposure notices April 23-29

The Surrey Teachers’ Association says it’s “not too late to make changes that can still save lives” following a leaked B.C. Centre for Disease Control report that showed the positivity rate in parts of Surrey was more than 20 per cent.

The documents, which were first obtained by the Vancouver Sun, showed the distribution of B.C. coronavirus cases broken down into local neighbourhoods, different from what has been released since the pandemic began early in 2020. The internal report was for the week of April 23 to 29, 2021.

READ ALSO: Surrey communities recording more COVID-19 cases also seeing lower vaccination rates, May 8, 2021

The B.C. CDC breaks Surrey into two sub-regions: Surrey (the northern part of the city) and South Surrey/White Rock. The city consists of nine communities: Cloverdale, East Newton, West Newton, Fleetwood, Guildford, North Surrey, Panorama and Whalley and South Surrey.

In the report, it showed that the positivity rate in most of Surrey was either between 5.1 to 10 per cent (Cloverdale, South Surrey) or 10.1 to 20 per cent (Panorama, Fleetwood, East Newton Guildford), but the northwest part of the city (Whalley, North Surrey and West Newton) had a positivity rate of more than 20 per cent.

According to a release from the BC Teachers’s Federation on behalf of the STA, it says that in that northwest quadrant, there are three secondary schools and 23 elementary schools.

During the week of April 23 to 29, those 26 schools had 105 exposure notifications and five elementary classes and 132 other individuals (staff and students) were sent into isolation. In comparison, the district as a whole had nine classes (mostly kindergarten to Grade 4) and 589 individuals sent into isolation.

That northwest quadrant accounts for about 22 per cent of all isolations that week.

Matt Westphal, president of the STA, said that when people see numbers like that, they may not understand what that looks like in classrooms and in schools, in the lives of teachers and students in that area.

“A teacher told me they can’t social distance in their Kindergarten class,” he said. “They have circular tables with no other option, so the kids face each other all day. The teacher tries to encourage students to wear masks, but don’t have a mandate to back them up. When kids get sick at school, their parents struggle to get them tested. Teachers send sick kids home weekly, and they often return without being tested because so many in the community can’t afford to take time off work.”

The STA is continuing to push for reduced class sizes, a mask mandate for kindergarten to Grade 3, remote learning options and improved ventilation in schools.

READ ALSO: ‘There can be more’: Surrey teachers push for better COVID safety measures, May 1, 2021

This comes as a report from Fraser Health on COVID-19 school cluster and transmission analysis was first posted on social media and then later released officially by the health authority.

The report, dated May 7, 2021, includes data on COVID-19 cases reported to public health between Jan. 1 and March 7, 2021 for both public and independent schools. It identifies schools with more than one case in a 14-day period, which could be a “confirmed cluster” of at least one person in a 14-day period or a “declared outbreak” of a cluster with evidence of ongoing transmission in multiple classrooms and admin areas.

Between Jan. 1 and March 7, 2021, there were 35 cluster or outbreak locations in the Surrey school district. That’s more than 20 per cent of the more than 130 schools in the district.

A key finding from the report states that 72.8 per cent of clusters throughout Fraser Health were brought into schools by students, adding “this was expected as students proportionately make up the majority of the school population.

By the end of April, Surrey had about 26 per cent of the overall cases, 33,146 in total, but only accounts for about 11 per cent of B.C.’s total population.

– With files from Ashley Wadhwani


Like us on Facebook Follow us on Instagram and follow Lauren on Twitter


Just Posted

File photo
Surrey Board of Trade vows ‘a lot of noise’ will be made about tax increases

Huberman calls for comprehensive tax review at all levels of government

A butterfly takes a rest on some flowers in a hanging basket in one of three entries in the 2021 Sunshine Hills Community Group Virtual Garden Show by “flowers flowers flowers” category winner Tammy S. (Tammy S./Facebook photo)
18 winners named in North Delta virtual garden show

2021 Sunshine Hills Community Group Virtual Garden Show ran May 28 to June 4

William Henry Rawlison was last seen on Sunday, June 20, 2021. (Contributed photo)
Police looking for missing White Rock senior

William Rawlison, last seen on June 20, may be driving to Kamloops

(James Smith photo)
North Delta crime beat, week of June 7

A selection of property crimes submitted weekly by the Delta Police Department

Earl Marriott Mariners football coach Michael Mackay-Dunn (centre, wearing white hat) is retiring from teaching and coaching. (EMS Football photo)
Longtime Earl Marriott Secondary teacher, football coach retires

Michael Mackay-Dunn hangs up coaching whistle after 22 years

The border crossing into the United States is seen during the COVID-19 pandemic in Lacolle, Que. on February 12, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
VIDEO: Border quarantine to soon lift for fully vaccinated Canadians

Eligible travellers must still take multiple COVID-19 tests

Chilliwack secondary school’s principal is apologizing after a quote equating graduation with the end of slavery in the U.S. was included in the 2020-2021 yearbook. (Screenshot from submitted SnapChat)
B.C. student’s yearbook quote equates grad to end of slavery; principal cites editing error

Black former student ‘disgusted’ as CSS principal apologizes for what is called an editing error

Skeena MLA Ellis Ross. (Photo by Peter Versteege)
BC Liberal leadership candidate condemns ‘senseless violence’ of Okanagan church fires

Skeena MLA Ellis Ross says reconciliation isn’t about revenge for past tragedies

A coroner’s inquest will be taking place at the Capitol Theatre in Port Alberni for the next week. (ELENA RARDON / ALBERNI VALLEY NEWS)
Teen B.C. mom who died following police custody recalled as ‘friend to many’

Police sent Jocelyn George to hospital after intoxication had gone ‘beyond the realm’ of normal detox

FILE - In this Nov. 29, 2020, file photo, Las Vegas Raiders defensive end Carl Nassib leaves the field after an NFL football game against the Atlanta Falcons in Atlanta. Nassib on Monday, June 21, 2021, became the first active NFL player to come out as gay. Nassib announced the news on Instagram, saying he was not doing it for the attention but because “I just think that representation and visibility are so important.” (AP Photo/John Bazemore, File)
Nassib becomes first active NFL player to come out as gay

More than a dozen NFL players have come out as gay after their careers were over

Penticton Indian Band Chief Greg Gabriel speaks to the Sacred Hearts Catholic Church burning down early Monday morning, June 21, 2021. (Monique Tamminga Western News)
Penticton band chief condemns suspicious burning of 2 Catholic churches

Both Catholic church fires are deemed suspicious, says RCMP

COVID-19 daily cases reported to B.C. public health, seven-day moving average to June 17, 2021. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infections drop to 90 on Sunday, 45 Monday

Pandemic spread dwindles as 77% of adults receive vaccine

By protesting uninvited in First Nations’ territories, conservationists are acting in a neocolonial or paternalistic manner, says Huu-ay-aht Chief Robert Dennis. Photo by Heather Thomson
A closer look: do Vancouver Island First Nations support the war in the woods?

First Nations/environmentalist old growth alliance uneasy, if it exists at all

A blood drive in support of 1-year-old Rielynn Gormley of Agassiz is scheduled for Monday, June 28 at Tzeachten First Nation Community Hall in Chilliwack. Rielynn lives with type 3 von Willebrand disease, which makes it difficult for her to stop bleeding. (Screenshot/Canadian Blood Services)
Upcoming blood drive in honour of Fraser Valley toddler with rare blood condition

The Gormley family has organized a blood drive in Chilliwack on June 28

Most Read