The Langley School District has recorded no COVID-19 cases for the month of June, after hitting a peak of nearly 30 schools on Fraser Health’s exposure list in May and consecutive days of reporting new cases.
This was welcome news to superintendent Gord Stewart during Tuesday night’s board meeting.
“Thankfully we’re starting to see some good news throughout the province,” he said.
Stewart provided a COVID-19 update and a look at what school may look like in Langley come fall.
Since October 2020 the local district has recorded a total of 303 COVID-19 cases at 42 out of 43 sites. No cases were recorded in September.
One school in the district has not been met with any cases.
“We don’t want to jinx it, but we have to announce it anyways,” Stewart said during the virtual meeting.
Uplands Elementary has recorded no cases of the coronavirus.
“But really I have to commend all of our sites… just to put in perspective, when you think about from September to now 23,000 students and 2,500-plus staff, when you think about 303 cases, I think it’s amazing and that a tribute to our staff,” Stewart said, also acknowledging the role parents and students played in case management.
In May the district was recording exposures at multiple sites daily. At one point more than half of the district’s 43 sites were on Fraser Health’s exposure list.
“I wondered myself through that April and May stretch, ‘are we going to make it, are we going to make it to the summer’,” Stewart reflected. “That fact that we kept schools open is incredible.”
The district has gone from recording a high of 78 cases in April to 63 in May, and now zero in June.
“So the vaccine program is having an impact,” Stewart suggested. “I strongly encourage, if you can get out there and get that vaccine – absolutely, if you haven’t done so yet.”
So far the numbers show Langley’s R.E Mountain Secondary catchment has been the most active with a total number of 86 COVID-19 cases recorded at the eight schools in the catchment. R.E. Mountain accounts for 28 of those cases.
Second to Willoughby is the Langley Secondary School catchment with 18 cases at LSS and 16 at H.D. Stafford Middle – contributing to the total of 59 cases recorded across the eight schools in that area.
Despite Walnut Grove Secondary being the largest school in the district with more than 2,000 students, it experienced 18 exposures, fewer than R.E. Mountain Secondary.
Stewart also spoke briefly spoke about grad ceremonies, summer session and a look ahead at the fall semester.
The shift to Step 2 in B.C.’s restart plan on Tuesday will not amount to any changes to grad ceremonies, he said.
The COVID-19 notification system and partnership with Fraser Health will continue through the coming months as summer session begins July 5.
Summer session will take place at nine elementary sites, eight middle school sites, and two secondary sites.
Information about registration and schedules can be found online at www.sd35.bc.ca/schools/summer-session.
— Langley Schools (@LangleySchools) May 22, 2021
Come September the district is considering some changes on how things will run.
“We are still getting information on this and we’ll make sure to communicate out, but it’s looking right now… masks will certainly be something that are voluntary,” Stewart said, noting this is still a topic under consideration.
On Thursday, Education Minister Jennifer Whiteside said schools are expected to return to “near normal” conditions this September during a government announcement alongside provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry.
However, COVID-19 indicators will need to be monitored through the coming months, Stewart noted.
“Again, this is what we’re being told should things continue,” Stewart said, referring to the rate of vaccination, declining case counts and hospitalizations.
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