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Mr. Goertzen recently asked in an opinion column some questions about why BSD isn't going to be "transparent". All good reasons that he provides for full transparency. However, why pick on BSD? Do you know if there are superspreader events at Wheat Kings/Minor Hockey/Beer League games? What about that and dance class or spinning, etc. etc. I could accuse Mr. Goertzen of fascistoid tendency but he is just being a partisan that is hell bent on the destruction of public spaces and cowtows to his private enterprise employer.
Matt’s doing his job and raising a topic that's important to a lot of people. Better to explain what you might disagree with in the message than go at the messenger with what are to be honest some accusations that are a little hard to take seriously. Other than Wheat King games where there are a handful of events per month, the examples you’ve given are of situations where there are dozens to maybe hundreds of folks involved. BSD between staff and students is more than 10,000. Between that shear volume of people every weekday and how many are unvaccinated, you’d be hard pressed to find another org that pandemic success or failure rests on so much locally other than Prairie Mountain Health itself. They will no doubt be having to walk a fine line with privacy, not all decisions are necessarily made locally and not all information is necessarily made available to local officials, but when the level of disclosure and transparency changes like it has recently there absolutely should be questions. As someone with a child in the system I thought the way the notices were being released before was usually helpful in understanding the impact of Covid in the schools, in how cases and outbreaks are being addressed. That leads to a level of trust that’s critical as we work our way through this fourth wave and in particular right now the concerning number of cases out of Riverheights. It’s hard to blame folks if a reduction in transparency leads to more questions… questions that I hope the answers become clearer to be it from the Province, BSD or both.
This is the only disease that's being a global pandemic right now and one that continues to threaten to overwhelm medical systems. Though I'm guessing there's at least a chance that what we're seeing is because someone raised a privacy complaint, the notices that they're trying to put the genie back in the bottle with didn't identify students, only grade/class/school. There's a serious use-case for the the notices that were published helping to control spread within the community. I'll use our experience as an example. Our kiddo regularly plays with another who goes to a different school whose parents we don't have regular contact with. Not long ago that different school had a swell of cases that started to be made public literally the day after our kiddo had been playing with this student in close contact. Once we learned that the school was having a problem with cases and eventually found out affected grades it put us in a position to elevate how seriously we took the situation and make extra decisions out of an abundance of caution. In this case the student did end up showing symptoms, got tested and after a period of time we later learned was negative. If they were positive (and based on the circumstances ad the fact the ended up showing symptoms it was a real possibility) our being in a position to make more informed decisions could have very legitimately stopped spread from jumping into our son's own school.
Now with much more limited and delayed info being put out it's going to send this kind of stuff more to gossip circles. I'd hope people will do what they can to stick to facts before assumptions in those cases, but we all know that that isn't always the case. You might sadly see assumptions made about an entire school when it isn't known what grades are affected.
It appears that the approach is to direct people to the provincial site, but unfortunately the data is often many days behind on the school case map. The division seemed to have worked out a process where they were able to get info out much quicker, very likely hitting off situations of further spread at the pass. Some will point out situations of inconsistency between the map and school notices as a point of frustration for some and they'd be right. But I'd much rather see them work out those inconsistencies by being on the same page or making sure that the one central data source is putting out data in a more timely and detailed manner. Worst case scenario the way it was seemed to serve the greater good better than the way it is now.
I continue to see no reason to have any less trust that at the execution level the pandemic response continues to make best efforts to keep us safe. That said, I have to say... what a mess data is on outbreaks right now. To summarize: -on the outbreaks data table on the Provincial website, an outbreak is listed for New Era School. An outbreak that had been shown for Riverheights School was removed from the table yesterday. On this same page, earlier this week the data breakdown between staff and non-staff seems to have disappeared and is replaced by a whole number for the school (maybe temporary?). -on the Prairie Mountain page on the Provincial website under the outbreaks section, it's indicated that there's an outbreak at Riverheights School amongst the outbreaks (school and non-school) in PMH. No New Era outbreak is listed. -Bringing up the the school cases map as of now shows 15 cases at Riverheights in the two weeks prior to November 16 and 9 at New Era in that same period.
-In all of this we're no longer seeing the public notices from BSD that would often at least tie some of these loose ends together. -Beyond schools, on the Public Exposures listing for Prairie Mountain a single exposure from two months ago this Monday (August 22) is listed. Since August 23 Brandon has had an increase in total case count of 349. Totally understand that the ask of the general public is to follow the fundamentals no matter what and that so many folks are doing just that... but safe to say it's highly unlikely there haven't been potential public exposures identified out of those 349. Its not clear if they aren't tracking exposures any more, if there's a bottleneck on the communications side, if there's been a decision to not disclose or if there really haven't been public exposures identified in two months.... but I think its important to know which of those applies and what the plan is going forward. This again isn't for a second to speak to the wider Covid response or the decisions that have the province managing the virus as best as possible. I feel that decisions made over the summer in particular put us in a better position to take on this next wave than what other provinces were in at the time and I'm confident that we're in good hands with Dr. Roussin making best possible recommendations to guide the ship. At the same time, speaking in terms of the here and now as a resident in PMH and as a parent of a kiddo in school it's becoming increasingly frustrating to see our case count go up and not have the same sense for where we're impacted that we had gotten earlier in the pandemic. Every reason to believe that this is only a communication challenge, but its at the point where someone needs to own it, streamline it, make sure its consistent and make sure that we have better information on what's taking place in this community and region right now.
As much as the numbers have been going up, the end and a new normal really truly does appear to be in sight. Fingers crossed that we can see the Province up its data game so that folks have best possible sense for how we're impacted right now along with where we are on that road toward the other side.
Hope, yet taking things as seriously as we rightfully continue to be asked to, dont need to be mutually exclusive ideas. Have you considered a new thread to further explore what Europe is seeing and what it means in the ongoing response to Covid? Do you have further thoughts on the core topic of this thread, communication of cases and outbreaks in schools?
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