An Okanagan school has been fully shut down for 10 days due to a coronavirus outbreak and related staffing shortages, according to a letter issued to parents and students on Sunday.
The Interior Health Authority (IHA) confirmed 11 positive cases are connected to École de l’Anse-au-sable, a French-language school located on Lequime Road in Kelowna, B.C.
The health agency announced exposure dates of Oct. 13-16 as well as Oct.19-20.
It has not been confirmed if those sick are children, teachers or staff.
Health officials said 160 members of the school community may have been exposed to the virus and they are self-isolating for 14 days.
Read more: Coronavirus outbreak declared at Okanagan school with 3 positive tests; 160 told to self-isolate
“After an analysis of the school population and available human resources, the administration of the Conseil scolaire francophone (CSF) has no choice but to close École l’Anse-au-sable until November 4, 2020 inclusive, to ensure everyone’s safety,” the letter from school administrators says.
The letter is signed by superintendent Michel St-Amant, assistant superintendent Fariba Daragahi and school principal Sylvie Forget.
Parents are urged to keep monitoring their children’s health on a daily basis, but if families have not been contacted directly by Interior Health, they are not considered at-risk.
“We will continue to work in close collaboration with the public health authority and send you updates whenever appropriate,” the letter states.
Read more: Coronavirus: Dates of COVID-19 outbreak at Okanagan school expanded, 11 cases now confirmed
“Once again, please know that the health, safety and well-being of our students, families and staff remain our absolute priority. If you have any questions or concerns about COVID-19, please call 811,” the letter says.
With so many people being asked to self-isolate, questions are arising about siblings and contacts of contacts.
Medical health officer Dr. Kamran Godmohammadi said Interior Health is coordinating efforts to ensure the risk of COVID-19 spread is minimized, and that “when someone is exposed to a confirmed case of COVID-19, we consider that individual a contact and ask them to self-isolate for 14 days.”
It is the first and only coronavirus outbreak in a B.C. school since classes resumed in September, although dozens of school exposures have been reported, and can be found here.
École de l’Anse-au-sable isn’t part of Central Okanagan Public Schools but is part of the provincewide Conseil Scolaire Francophone, which is also known as School District 93.
-With files from Doyle Potenteau