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New West Home Learners Program, PALS Autism Society school see COVID-19 exposures

Glenbrook, Queensborough Middle School exposures remain the only cases at New Westminster school district's 12 schools so far in 2021
The New Westminster Home Learners Program, based at Hume Park, has seen its first COVID-19 exposure notice of the school year. Fraser Health has reported an exposure at the site on Jan. 5.

Two alternative and independent school programs in New Westminster have seen their first COVID-19 exposures of the school year.

The Fraser Health Authority’s school exposures website reports a Jan. 5 exposure at the School District 40 Home Learners Program, based out of Hume Park.

It also notes a Jan. 11 and 12 exposure at the PALS Autism Society school program. The independent school for children and teens with autism is on Third Street.

An “exposure” means someone who has since tested positive for COVID-19 was at the school site during their potentially infectious period. It does not mean transmission occurred in the school.

No new exposures were reported over the weekend in any of the New Westminster school district’s 12 schools. So far in 2021, district schools have seen two COVID-19 exposures, both at middle schools: one at Glenbrook Jan. 4, and one at Queensborough Jan. 11.


Sarah Wethered, president of the New Westminster Teachers’ Union, said notification around those exposures shows the process may be getting quicker.

The time lag between potential exposure and the notification letters sent to school communities had caused concern in New Westminster and around the region before Christmas. At times in the fall, school communities were not receiving notifications until 10 or more days after the reported exposure – which teachers and parents had noted meant people who might have been exposed to the virus were then in a position of unknowingly exposing others.

But Wethered said the two newest cases showed progress on that front. She received a letter about the Glenbrook exposure on Jan. 8, just four days after the reported exposure, while the Queensborough letter came the next day.

After all reported exposures, health officials conduct contact tracing to determine who may have been in close enough contact with the COVID-19 case to require self-monitoring or, in rarer cases, self-isolation.

Wethered said teachers still have concerns that contact tracing may be missing some people, given that health officials contact principals – rather than teachers – for information about contacts.

Teachers’ union reps have been pushing for teachers to be involved in contact tracing because they are most aware of which students are in close contact with others.

That concern is one of a number of items teachers raised during a meeting with Fraser Health medical health officer Dr. Ariella Zbar on Jan. 15.

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