On March 12, the Campbell River School District cancelled all district events in light of the first COVID-19 case on Vancouver Island. File photo

Campbell River School District cancels all events, but schools remain open

Decision made following announcement of COVID-19 case on Vancouver Island

The Campbell River School District is cancelling all school-related and district-sponsored gatherings effective immediately.

The decision was announced shortly before noon Thursday and is in response to the first COVID-19 case reported on Vancouver Island, a man in his 60s who returned from travelling in Egypt.

“As we are all aware, the circumstances of COVID-19 is changing daily and we must respond accordingly to the information that’s available to us,” the letter from district associate superintendents Morgan Kyle and Philip Cizmic said. “We are cancelling these events to try to help mitigate the potential spread of the virus.”

At this time, schools remain open.

“We understand that this move will be disappointing to our school communities,” the letter said. “However, given that so many extended family and community attend these events and that COVID-19 is a particular risk for the elderly and those with underlying health conditions we felt these cancellations were necessary at this time.”

On March 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic.

The same day, Rogers Sports & Media cancelled the rest of its Hometown Hockey Tour, which had included a stop in Campbell River later this month. Major sport leagues, including the NBA, NHL and MBA have also announced season postponements.

On March 11, District Superintendent Jeremy Morrow sent a letter out to parents with information about spring break travel and COVID-19.

The last day of class for students before spring break is March 13. Students return to class on March 23.

“With spring break right around the corner and many families possibly choosing to travel internationally, we know that there may be increased risk of the virus spreading,” he said. “Families are advised to monitor the Government of Canada’s travel health notices (www.travel.gc.ca/travelling/advisories) to inform their decision making regarding upcoming travel and to continue to monitor these travel health notices while travelling.”

RELATED: Take COVID-19 seriously, says B.C. doctor

As on March 12, the Government of Canada has issued travel health notices for COVID-19 for 10 countries. Italy, China and Iran are listed as level 3, meaning avoid non-essential travel. South Korea and Japan are listed as level 2 (practise special precautions), while France, Spain, Germany, Hong Kong and Singapore are listed as level 1 (practise usual precautions).

Government of Canada travel health notices are available here.

Morrow said that should families decide to travel to countries listed as level 2 or 3, they may be required to self-quarantine upon their return, as directed by health officials.

He said that should a student need to isolate, the district will “do our best to ensure that learning materials can be provided to you and your family.”

The Canadian government is advising those who have travelled abroad and developed a fever, cough or have difficulty breathing within 14 days to isolate themselves at home and call their health care provider or public health authority.

The school district has also cancelled all international student trips for the year. Trips to Italy, Greece and England this month have been cancelled “due to unknowns associated with this global health emergency, including the possible infection and quarantine of students and staff and the ability to ensure adequate supervision.”

RELATED: ‘Social distancing’ ramps up as COVID-19 spreads and economic toll mounts

Morrow said the district will be providing regular updates at sd72.bc.ca and encourages parents to keep apprised of the situation over the break.

Said Morrow, “As this is an evolving global situation, there will likely be changes throughout spring break and families are encouraged to check the website, especially prior to returning to school after spring break in case there are new measures from the provincial government and health officials.”


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