Since May 1, the Mission School District has been flagged for more COVID exposures in a two-week period than ever before.
Hillside Traditional Academy had exposures on every single school day last week; Mission Senior Secondary had exposures on May 4 and 6; Hatzic Middle on May 3 and 4, and Hatzic Elementary and West Heights Elementary on May 5, 6 and 7.
“Right now, it’s not great,” said Superintendent Angus Wilson. “I had six notifications yesterday … Overall, Mission’s done pretty well, but we’re definitely in a peak cycle right now.”
A Fraser Health analysis of school clusters and transmissions from Jan. 1 to March 7, was leaked on social media on May 7.
Mission’s in-school transmissions were low for the first two months of 2021, especially when compared to other school districts in the Fraser Health region.
The data revealed only two Mission schools were affected by clusters (evidence of transmission occurring in school) from the start of Jan. 1 to March 7. Wilson confirmed those schools were Albert McMahon Elementary and Hatzic Middle.
But compared to 35 confirmed clusters in Surrey and 10 in Abbotsford, Mission record of transmission is relatively small – one of the smallest in the Fraser Health region.
|A Fraser Health table showing number of clusters/outbreaks in each municipality, separating private and public schools and percentage of total cases from Jan. 1 to March 7.|
Mission has only one confirmed case of staff-to-student transmission, and one case of student-to-staff transition, according to the data.
In comparison, Abbotsford had 23 student-to-student transmissions, three from students to staff, two from staff to staff, nine from staff to student, and two cases that are unclear – a total of 39.
Wilson, for his part, is skeptical Mission’s numbers are as low as reported. He said the evidence standard is high for transmissions, and they never get an official cluster declaration from Fraser Health.
“Who can really ever say with these things? We’ve had an interesting one where a child got it somewhere in the community, took it to their school, brought it home, (and) both parents are educators,” he said. “That’s technically a kid-to-parent or transmission, but not in the school.”
Wilson said he doesn’t have a number on how many staff have caught the virus, but that infections have occurred in teachers, principals and vice-principals.
|A Fraser Health graph showing the number of weekly cases per 100,000 population, for students (blue) and community numbers (red). Mission has a population of just over 40,000.|
As for the current exposures, most stem from a single individual coming to school for multiple days before isolating, the longest being a nine-day period, according to Wilson.
“The longer they’re in the school, the more corners they can get to,” he said, adding the recent Hatzic Elementary closure was because of one infected person.
While Fraser Health’s analysis of clusters only confirmed 267 cases out of the 2049 examined, there are 333 suspected cases which are undergoing genome sequencing, and “current results reflect possible/likely in-school acquisition.”
[CORRECTION: An earlier version of this article stated the data sets were from Jan. 1 to May 7, when it should have read, Jan 1 to March 7. The data was leaked on May 7.]