By Andru McCracken

Many parents decided to keep students of the Valemount elementary and secondary schools home, in light of an ‘exposure’ at the high school on Wednesday, January 6th.

An exposure means that someone who could have been contagious was at the school on that day, meaning there was the potential for transmission, but not necessarily a transmission.

The exposure was listed on Northern Health’s website at 2pm on Monday, January 11. 

“Northern Health updates this list with the notification information of possible exposures to COVID-19 within schools in the region. We are providing this information so school staff, students and parents can be assured that Public Health is following up in their community and exposure risks are being mitigated to the best of our ability.”

Northern Health said that if a student or teacher receives a confirmed positive COVID-19 test result, Public Health follows up by contract tracing to determine how the individual was infected, and who they have been in close contact with.

They then identify and notify close contacts who are at increased risk and advise them to self-isolate and monitor for symptoms for 14 days.

Northern health said that Public Health determines who is a close contact.

“Learning groups, friends or other connections may not be determined to be a close contact,” they said.

Northern Health warns that a notification of exposure at a school doesn’t mean students have been exposed to the COVID-19.

“If you do not receive a phone call or letter from Public Health, your child should continue to attend school. If your child’s school has been notified of an exposure, no action is required unless you are contacted by Public Health or are otherwise directed by school officials.”

Northern Health said that Public Health will contact parents in any case of a school exposure involving their child.

Superintendent Anita Richardson was unavailable for comment.

An employee of the Valemount Secondary School spoke to us off the record.

“We don’t know who it was,” said the employee. “It could have been someone walking in off the street.”

Students are greeted as they come into the building each morning, asked about symptoms, then sanitize their hands and begin the day.

“The school has never been cleaner,” they said.