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B.C. schools' winter break won't be extended in the face of COVID-19

Dr. Bonnie Henry says in-school transmissions are low and schools remain a 'safe and important' place for students and educators
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B.C. provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry at her Dec. 7 media briefing. Photo via Government of British Columbia

It’s official: B.C. students won’t enjoy a longer winter break this year in the face of COVID-19.

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry made the news official at her Dec. 7 briefing. She announced that her sweeping health orders banning nearly all social gatherings and events – including Christmas dinners involving anyone outside your own household - will be extended until midnight on Jan. 8, 2021.

She also noted, in response to questions, that she will not issue an order to extend the school winter break – one of the suggestions that had been raised earlier in the year as a possibility to help curb the spread of COVID-19.

Henry said health officials have been following the school situation closely, acknowledging that exposure numbers have been rising.

“Those exposures still continue to reflect transmission in our communities, but we are not having large numbers of transmission events in schools,” she said. “Those are very small, very few. We’ve had few outbreaks in schools, but they’ve been limited in number.”

Henry said she had discussions with many stakeholders about whether there was a rationale for closing schools but decided against it.

“Schools really are a safe place, and an important place, for our educators and for our students,” she said. “We’ve made a decision that the downsides of it would be far greater than the safety and the protection of the education and the interaction that’s needed in the schools.”