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LETTER: COVID restrictions pose challenge to families with school-age children

As we start 2022, the Greater Victoria area is experiencing a peak period of the COVID-19 pandemic. In B.C. the numbers have been skyrocketing. School District 61 today declared a snow day and kids are in the street building snow people. As families begin sending their children back to school, the Office of the Public Health Officer may want to consider the rules around Omicron and COVID-19 infections in families.

For months families have been heavily impacted by COVID-19 outbreaks. Anytime a COVID-19 case occurred in a household, family members have been asked to isolate. In B.C., children between the ages of 5-12 have only been able to register for the vaccine late in 2021. Most families started to vaccinate their children in December. Some of them now have one vaccine, but that still makes them for COVID-19 public health purposes in the category of not ‘fully vaccinated’ – which is ironic because they are not able to be fully vaccinated. It means that the rules are firmer on them. Even if they contract the disease and recover from it, they will still be asked to isolate for 10 days, until the last person in their household completed their period to isolate.

With Omicron now rampant, the disease is impacting our society. We have noticed reductions in being able to come to work due to COVID-19 disease or the need to isolate. The recommendation for children to be isolating for 10 days after the last person in the household has symptoms may end up wreaking havoc for families.

The rule is set up for a time when we knew very little about the disease, or when few people were vaccinated. But kids are now asked to carry a disproportionately heavy burden, in terms of needing to isolate, including staying home from school. The family members who have to take care of kids as they are not able to go to school are also taking a hit. Perhaps as we are now transitioning to a more endemic stage, PHO should cut kids and their families some slack.

Amy Verdun