The bell rang in schools for the first time this week as students returned to classes.

Despite students heading back to schools, parents still have concerns and questions about how schools will handle COVID-19 and the back to school plan.

One concern is what happens if a COVID-19 outbreak or a case happens in a school?

Dr. Carol Fenton, a medical health officer with Interior Health, said they currently are developing guidelines with the province with how exactly procedures for outbreaks in schools are going to look like.

“Outbreaks will be managed as we have managed the other COVID outbreaks that we have seen since January, and they are managed by a medical health officer, who’s working together with a communicable disease specialist and epidemiologist, and partners at the school,” she said. “We gather together, get information, conduct a risk assessment. We implement outbreak control measures, so it may include sending students home, it may not. It likely includes heightened cleaning, stricter physical distancing. There is no set requirement because those will be done by a case and risk assessment basic.”

She said if a student or teacher suspect symptoms, teachers will act the same way as if they were sick with anything else.

“There will be a space in the schools where a child can go once the teacher or the child has identified that they are having symptoms. They will be able to wait there in a safe way, and then the parent can be phoned, and the child can be picked up for school. At this point, there is no need for public health involvement,” Fenton said.

She added that parents could call 811 or one of the testing centres directory to see if they are eligible for testing, and then they can book an appointment.

Fenton notes that people only need to isolate if they are waiting for a COVID test or the result of the test.