Coronvirus expansion to new variants are raising virus containment issues for the province. (File photo)

Rising COVID-19 variants unsettling for Central Okanagan teachers

Vancouver Canucks being sidelined by COVID has been eye opener for public school community

Teachers across B.C. are facing heightened concerns about COVID-19 variants becoming increasingly predominant among school-aged children.

And, like elsewhere in the province, those fears resonate for Central Okanagan Public Schools teachers.

This week School District 23 reported, 12 schools experiencing coronavirus exposures which did little to soften the concern, particularly when those numbers were far higher than in neighbouring school districts.

“To me, this only happens when people are out and about and travelling, doing things they shouldn’t be doing,” said Susan Bauhart, president of the Central Okanagan Teachers Association (COTA), the local affiliate of the BC Teachers’ Federation.

Like many residents, she noted anecdotally how there seemed to be a lot of visitors in town during spring break at a time when the provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry has been telling people to stay home, or not venture outside their bubble or health region.

“I’m not sure how these things spread but I try to follow all the things we are asked to do and yes, even I get sick of it, but it would be great to see us all follow what we are told to do. Otherwise, these new variants would seem to be a hard thing to contain moving forward.”

READ MORE: Multiple COVID-19 exposures in Kelowna schools

Bauhart said the rapid exposure of the Vancouver Canucks players, which has placed in doubt the team’s ability to complete the current National Hockey League season with essentially all the players and team staff now quarantined, has been an eye-opener for how quickly these new variants can spread.

“Those are highly conditioned professional athletes following protocols who got sick,” said Bauhart, raising doubts about how a similar outbreak could be contained in public schools.

“We don’t have the numbers here fortunately that has been experienced in Surrey, but nor did North Vancouver and now they have had to shut down one school completely because of COVID…this is not something that will be limited only to the Lower Mainland.”

She said the BC Teachers Federation (BCTF) pushed for and saw the province classify teachers as frontline workers, making them eligible for the initial wave of vaccinations.

Problems that have arisen with the AstraZeneca vaccine, which local teachers were targeted to receive, have placed those efforts on hold for the moment.

“We are thinking now that might happen in May or June, but it could be longer. It all depends on the supply of vaccines which we have no direct control over,” she said.

Bauhart said there remains a range of emotions about coronavirus among COTA members, from not seeing a problem to extreme concern.

“I would say the concern becomes far greater the more this becomes detrimental to younger people. There is that fear of the unknown and the angst about getting the vaccine.

“Getting the vaccine does not make you immune to the variants but it definitely seems to reduce the risk of becoming hospitalized and some of the other dreadful effects that have been occurring.”

But she said teachers are committed to keeping school opens, feeling students in the classroom is one of the safest places they can be right now.

READ MORE: From now on, all COVID-19 cases in B.C. presumed to be more infectious variants: Henry

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism? Make a donation here.


Just Posted

Quinn, left, and Adrian Van de Mosselaer are going through UBCO’s nursing program together after Quinn encouraged his brother to go back to school. (UBC Okanagan/Contributed)
UBC Okanagan student transitions from professional hockey to nursing

Adrian Van de Mosselaer credits his younger brother for the push to get him back to learning

The first Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine dose in Canada is prepared at The Michener Institute in Toronto on Monday, Dec. 14, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
One death, 39 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health

There are 484 active cases of the virus in the region currently

A nurse prepares a dose of the COVID-19 vaccine in Kelowna on Tuesday, March 16. (Phil McLachlan/Black Press Media file)
More than 40% of Central Okanagan residents have received 1st vaccine dose

Local clinics have administered 81,247 first doses to Central Okanagan residents

A GoFundMe page has been launched to alleviate the financial burden for “Captain” Kelly, a former Peachland School District bus driver who was recently diagnosed with stage three lung and lymphatic cancer. (
Fundraiser launched for former Peachland school bus driver diagnosed with cancer

“Captain” Kelly was recently diagnosed with stage three lung and lymphatic cancer

Brenda Ware. (RCMP)
Murder charge laid against man in Kootenay National Park homicide

Philip Toner was located in Lake Country on May 11

B.C. Labour Minister Harry Bains in the B.C. legislature, May 13, 2019. (Hansard TV)
VIDEO: B.C. to provide 3 days of sick pay for COVID-19 absences

Province will support employers on cost, labour minister says

Vernon’s Tanya Wick, human resources VP at Tolko Industries Ltd., has been named the 2021 HR Professional of the Year by the Chartered Professionals in Human Resources of British Columbia and Yukon. (CPHR BC & Yukon photo)
Okanagan resident gets top provincial award for HR excellence

Tolko’s Tanya Wick has earned the title of 2021 HR Professional of the Year

BC Housing minister David Eby. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito)
Eby jabs back against Penticton mayor’s ad urging BC Premier to intervene in shelter dispute

Eby writes that Penticton’s ‘serious’ social issues won’t improve under leadership of the mayor

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

The City of Vernon is taking a close look at six high-priority Okanagan Lake access points, including three sites along Tronson Road (pictured above) in May 2021. (Brendan Shykora - Morning Star)
Vernon council looking closely at Okanagan Lake access points

Six access points have been identified as ideal for recreation

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature, April 29, 2021. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 rate creeps up again, 600 new cases Wednesday

One more death, 423 people in hospital with virus

RCMP. (Phil McLachlan - Black Press Media)
Police working to identify the two bodies found in South Okanagan

The area will see higher police presence ahead of a forensic examination

B.C. Agriculture Minister Lana Popham takes questions in the B.C. legislature in 2017. (Hansard TV)
UPDATE: B.C. will fund another year of fresh fruit, vegetables, milk in schools

John Horgan government working on school meal program

Most Read