B.C is bringing in COVID-19 rapid response teams to support K-12 schools and school districts.

The province says one team will be appointed to each of the five health authorities, which will be responsible for supporting independent schools in the region, including hiring or redeploying health and safety staff.

Minister of Education Jennifer Whiteside says the teams will also help with safety plans and exposure assessments.

“Rapid response teams are a critically important addition to the health and safety measures that are keeping schools safe for students and staff,” said Whiteside.

 “As the pandemic evolves, these teams will help us respond quickly and adapt, where necessary, to ensure best practices are being consistently applied throughout the education sector.”

The teams will include staff from both schools and public health and they will: 

  • work with schools, school district and health authority staff to review significant school exposure events, make recommendations and support schools to enhance their safety plans when needed.
  • review school or district COVID-19 safety plans and related policies;
  • support schools with their implementation and safety plans, as well as communications to students, staff and families; and
  • conduct school safety assessments.

The five lead school districts include Surrey for the Fraser Health region, Nanaimo-Ladysmith for the Island Health region, Central Okanagan for the Interior Health region, Peace River North for the Northern Health region,  and Vancouver for the Vancouver Coastal Health region.

An additional $288 million in one-time, provincial and federal funding is also being released to to schools and districts, including $3.5 million to manage COVID-19 exposures in schools.