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School Exposure Notifications: An FOI project

The British Columbia Ministry of Health, Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry, and the British Columbia Centre for Disease Control have decided to no longer issue school-wide COVID-19 exposure notifications. As indicated by Dr. Henry on August 31, they have instead opted to communicate directly with only the students they have deemed at risk for exposure. We think this is the wrong approach, especially given BC CDC contact tracers are still basing whom is considered a close contact upon the droplet theory of transmission, rather than the scientific consensus of airborne transmission.

This is where you come in.

It is imperative we make the British Columbia government rethink this position. Exposure notifications are in the public interest, as COVID-19 is a highly transmissible novel pathogen that causes morbidity and mortality.

A small group of citizens from around the province has agreed to link arms in filing requests under Section 25 of the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act. In total, at the time of writing, we have volunteers ready to petition the government for 14 of the 60 public school districts in the province. That's a great start, almost a quarter of the public school districts. Ideally, we would like to have the number of volunteers at or greater than 60. If this can be achieved, perhaps we can move to requesting data for the private school and the post-secondary school sectors.

Processing FOI requests takes a considerable amount of resources from the government. This is precisely why we need more collaborators around BC to make the burden of processing these requests untenable. The hope is the government simply returns to previous reporting methods, which were not exactly world-class in transparency to begin with. However, previous reporting methods at the least allowed for data collection projects to spring up in the information vacuum left by the Ministry of Health. This information has been slowed to a trickle. We insist upon filling the void and keeping British Columbians informed of the situation on the ground pertaining to COVID-19 and school children.

Can you help us?

Write an email to safeschoolscoalitionbc@gmail.com and we will work to assign a pet school district to you. From there, you will be provided with a template letter and an informational document complete with the appropriate email addresses for you to send off your filing.

Sincerely,
Safe Schools Coalition BC

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