Runny noses, stomach ache, rashes and sore throat are no longer considered symptoms students need to check for COVID-19 under the revised daily health checklist that went home to parents this week. (Western file photo)

Runny noses, stomach ache, rashes and sore throat are no longer considered symptoms students need to check for COVID-19 under the revised daily health checklist that went home to parents this week. (Western file photo)

Okanagan teachers stressed about constant changes to health guidelines

Runny nose, sore throat among symptoms chopped from student health checklist

A runny nose or sore throat no longer means a student has to stay home from school.

Last week, the BC Centre for Disease Control along with the Provincial Health Officer reduced the number of symptoms on the daily student health checklist from 17 to seven. Ten symptoms have been removed from the list, including headache, fatigue, skin rashes and stomach ache.

Parents in SD67 were notified earlier this week of the change and students were sent home the new list.

Teachers are concerned about the change to the checklist and the “myriad of of changes to the documents from the Ministry of Education, Ministry of Health and the CDC,” said Kevin Epp, Okanagan-Skaha Teachers’ Union local president.

“While SD67 has worked hard to follow the guidelines, the guidelines are ambiguous in places, or lacking in the opinion of many educators,” said Epp.

“The stress on teachers and other school staff right now is enormous and, not without cost to well-being.”

Teachers are looking to the upcoming flu season and how SD67 will deal with it, said Epp.

“We are fortunate that the numbers of COVID cases in the Interior remains low, and fairly stable. That said, flu season will present further demands on a stretched system. No clear information has come from government regarding what teachers are to do if they exhaust their sick days and must stay home. It is also not clear if the district requires more funding to staff schools if they’ll receive any or simply have to run a deficit.”

In her daily conference on Monday, Dr. Bonnie Henry explained why they changed the list of symptoms, explaining that it’s important for kids to be able to attend school. Also research has been showing that some of the symptoms on the list don’t present themselves in children.

“The updates are intended to ensure children have the important opportunity they need to be in the school environment as much as possible, while also minimizing the risk of transmission of COVID-19,” said Henry. Fever and vomiting are still reasons to stay home from school, she said.

READ MORE: Students, teachers home sick

SD67 Superintendent of Schools Todd Manuel said the revised checklist is intended to provide clearer guidance for parents to determine if they are going to keep their child at home or not.

There have been no known cases of COVID in any schools in SD67. Schools in other districts are experiencing cases.

READ MORE: COVID case at West Kootenay school

“We have had a strong start to in-class instruction numbers and our overall student attendance rates have also been strong so far. As a district we continue to monitor attendance daily and the Ministry of Ed is also able to see attendance from all 60 districts in the MyEd system,” said Manuel.

“As we have for many years, we do contact Interior Health if there is absenteeism at any school is over 10 per cent on a given day. This has not been the case so far this year.”

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