Earl Marriott Secondary. (Google image)

50 cases of COVID-19 linked to five classes at Earl Marriott Secondary

Physical education classes, staff room and offices highlighted in letter to parents

Surrey School District is adjusting COVID-19 protocols after “close to 50” cases of COVID-19 were linked to five classes at Earl Marriott Secondary.

In a letter sent to parents, which was shared with Peace Arch News, district superintendent Jordan Tinney wrote that school officials met with Fraser Health to discuss how school officials could “review and adjust” its plans for re-opening Earl Marriott this month.

The letter reported nearly 50 cases of COVID-19 at the school affecting five classes. The classes, Tinney wrote, shared common areas and structures.

“The impacted classes were identified and put into self-isolation as was outlined in our letter of December 23rd. While Health issued a series of self-monitoring letters to several other classes in the school, this was a precautionary measure and Health believes that there was no further transmission beyond this core group.”

Tinney wrote that Earl Marriott is to implement further health and safety measures inside and outside of the school. The letter asks parents for their support and co-operation.

“As a school, we have and will continue to review our Health and Safety plans to make sure all measures are being implemented. The protocols are extensive and Earl Marriott is a large school with limited space. However, there are things we can and will adjust to not only our learning activities for students but for common areas for staff as well.”

The letter was also shared on the BC School Covid Tracker Facebook page, where it collected more than 460 comments from parents and others.

“This is insane,” Shannon Confortin wrote. “Surrey schools need to be moved online for a few weeks.”

“It is almost that the numbers aren’t bad enough,” Tanya Futcher commented. “We have no idea where families were over the holidays.”

The letter to parents reminds them, staff and students to do daily health checks and to not attend school if they are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms. The letter outlines a requirement in B.C. for students and staff to wear masks at all times when they are outside of their learning group or when they are in common areas, such as hallways.

“The Provincial Health requirements state that it is a choice for students to wear masks when in the classroom or within their learning group,” the letter said, adding that the district encourages mask wearing at all times.

“We are adjusting some of our protocols around common staff spaces such as the staff room and offices and we are also adjusting some of our practices in Physical Education where we have a number of cases and space is limited. Keeping students physically active is important and we need to continue to provide avenues for healthy and safety activities for all students,” he wrote.

Tinney thanked parents for their support and wished well to students and staff members who contracted COVID-19.

“We will learn from this episode and we will make adjustments.”

RELATED: Earl Marriott Secondary class self-isolating after COVID-19 exposure

Before the winter school break, Earl Marriott parents were advised that one class at the school was self-isolating at home due to a COVID-19 exposure.

The advisory for students to stay home was based on contact tracing that resulted from an earlier COVID-19 case, a Dec. 16 letter from the district explained.

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