Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s coronavirus situation at the legislature. (B.C. government)

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s coronavirus situation at the legislature. (B.C. government)

Health officials to ‘re-look’ at PE protocols after nearly 50 infected at Earl Marriott

High number of COVID-19 cases linked to physical education classes

The day after the Surrey School District announced that close to 50 individuals were diagnosed with COVID-19 at Earl Marriott Secondary, all of whom were from five classes, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry maintained that mandatory masks in schools is not the answer to prevent further transmission.

Sunday, school superintendent Jordan Tinney wrote a letter to parents advising them of the COVID-19 cases. He wrote that the school is “adjusting some of our protocols” when it comes to physical education, “where we have a number of cases and space is limited.”

According to provincial health orders, masks are mandated in high-traffic areas of schools, but students are free to remove their masks in class or during physical education.

When Henry was asked Monday about transmission at Earl Marriot, she said mandatory masks are not the solution.

“Masks are an important part of safety procedures in the schools, all schools. However, we know that when you’re exercising, physical exercise, when they get moist they are not as effective,” Henry said.

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

“I don’t think that’s the answer to PE classes, but I do think there are things that need to be put in place that if PE classes are being offered, they’re being offered safely.”

Henry said that physical education is an important part of school in terms of learning. While she said physical education classes can happen safely, she acknowledged that “we need to re-look at how it is done.”

According to the Government of Canada, COVID-19 infects people through respiratory droplets and aerosols created when an infected person coughs, sneezes, sings, shouts or talks.

“The droplets vary in size from large droplets that fall to the ground rapidly near the infected person, or small droplets, sometimes called aerosols, which linger in the air under some circumstances,” according to the federal government.

RELATED: B.C. records 2,211 new COVID cases, 45 deaths over New Year’s Eve long weekend

Preventing infection, Henry said, involves “layers of protection,” including reducing the number of people inside a closed space and maintaining distance.

“It doesn’t necessarily need to be two metres, depending on what you’re doing, it may need to be wider than two metres,” Henry said, adding that high intensity training would require more than two metres of space, physical barriers or better ventilation.

Asked about ventilation in schools, Henry said she’s been working with the ministry of education to use federal money to increase ventilation quality.

“That’s only one of the pieces. The challenge that we run into is that there is no one thing that’s going to make the difference, it’s having all of those pieces in place, in the right place, and then sticking with it,” she said. “That’s been our challenge, we all know that we get complacent over time or we forget or we bend the rules a little bit.”

B.C. has reported 2,211 new COVID-19 cases and 45 deaths over the past four days.



aaron.hinks@peacearchnews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

British ColumbiaCoronavirusEducation

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A tow truck works to pull a dump truck from a ditch at 176 Street and 40 Avenue, following a two-vehicle incident Tuesday (Jan. 19) afternoon. (Aaron Hinks photo)
PHOTOS: Dump truck, car collide in South Surrey

Intersection – 176 Street and 40 Avenue – was site of 2019 fatal collision

In 2017, a member of the Disneyana Fan Club curated a small Community Treasures exhibit at the Museum of Surrey about the early days of Disney and the cartoonist Walt Disney. The museum is now accepting applications for its 2022 Community Treasures exhibition. (Photo: Submitted)
Museum of Surrey wants to spotlight local organizations and clubs

Museum now accepting applications for its 2022 Community Treasures exhibit

Musician Dana Vande is seen in a screenshot from a music video on Youtube. Vande recently released a pro-lockdown track in response to an Eric Clapton and Van Morrison anti-lockdown track.
Cloverdale musician writes pandemic response song to Van Morrison and Eric Clapton

Dana Vande answers a Clapton-Morrison anti-lockdown track with a pro-lockdown track

An electric vehicle charging station in front of Hope’s municipal hall, district hall. (Photo: Emelie Peacock/Hope Standard)
40 electric vehicle charging stations planned for Surrey

Funding coming from all three levels of government

Syringe is prepared with one of B.C.’s first vials of Pfizer vaccine to prevent COVID-19, Victoria, Dec. 22, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 caseload stays steady with 465 more Tuesday

No new outbreaks in health care facilities, 12 more deaths

New Westminster TV production designer, Rick Whitfield, has designed an office in a box for British Columbians in need of a private workspace. (BC Box Office photo)
PHOTOS: B.C. man designs ‘box office’ solution for those working from home

‘A professionally designed workspace on your property, away from the distractions of home’

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Chilliwack ER doctor Marc Greidanus is featured in a video, published Jan. 18, 2021, where he demonstrates and describes effectiveness of various styles of masks. (Youtube)
VIDEO: Emergency room doctor runs through pros and cons of various masks

‘We’ve been asked to wear a mask and it’s not that hard,’ Greidanus says.

(Pixabay photo)
VIDEO: Tip to Metro Vancouver transit police helps woman 4,000 km away in Ohio

Sgt. Clint Hampton says transit police were alerted to a YouTube video of the woman in mental distress

A woman types on her laptop in Miami in a Monday, Dec. 12, 2016, photo illustration. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Wilfredo Lee
British Columbia government lax on cybersecurity practices, auditor reports

The audit did not highlight a specific threat, but it found breaches in cybersecurity are increasing globally

A child joins the Uke ‘n Play kickoff event at the Chilliwack Library on Oct. 1, 2016. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Events return, in virtual form, at Fraser Valley Regional Library

People can take part in ukulele jam, bullet journaling, reading groups and more

Cranbrook Food Bank coordinator Deanna Kemperman, Potluck Cafe Society executive director Naved Noorani and Sunshine Coast Community Services Society executive director Catherine Leach join B.C.’s new Municipal Affairs Minister Josie Osborne on a video call about B.C. gaming grants, Jan. 19, 2021. (B.C. government)
B.C. gaming grants reorganized for COVID-19 priorities

Minister highlights community kitchens, food banks

(Pixabay photo)
‘Cocaine bananas’ arrive at Kelowna grocery stores after mix up from Colombia: RCMP

Kelowna RCMP recently concluded an international drug investigation after finding cocaine in local grocers’ banana shipments in 2019

Most Read