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Indigenous institution the third Northern Health school potentially exposed to COVID-19

Nak’albun Elementary School is operated on Nak'azdli territory
Nak’albun Elementary School
Nak’albun Elementary School is an independent institution in Nak'azdli/Fort St. James. (via Google Maps)

Another school in northern B.C. has experienced a potential exposure to COVID-19.

Northern Health now has Nak’albun Elementary School listed with possible exposure dates between Sept. 16 and 18.

The independent institution is located on Nak'azdli Whut'en territory, more than 160 km northwest of Prince George in Fort St. James.

The First Nation band runs and operates the school, which takes in an average of 100 students each year, according to the district's website.

In her update today, Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry explained Northern Health's second virus-linked death, a 60-year-old woman reported Monday (Sept. 21), was a Nak'azdli Whut'en elder.

Nak’albun Elementary is now the third known school within Northern Health's jurisdiction to be listed on its exposure list.

Dawson Creek's École Frank Ross Elementary (SD59) was the first reported exposure, with Quesnel Junior Secondary (SD28) as the second.

Both schools were potentially exposed between Sept. 10 and 11.

As of this publication (Sept. 24), there are 278 confirmed COVID-19 cases in the north, including 38 active cases, six in hospital, two in ICU and 238 recoveries.

Two people have died since the virus hit the region in March.

Northern Health's school-exposure section explains students should still go to school "if you do not receive a phone call or letter from Public Health," but you're also encouraged to monitor symptoms daily.

Should a student or teacher receive a positive COVID-19 test, Northern Heath's school notification process is as follows:

  • Contact tracing is initiated to determine how the individual was infected and who they were in close contact with
  • We identify and notify close contacts who may be at an increased risk, and advise them to self-isolate and monitor for symptoms for 14 days
  • Only Public Health can determine who is a close contact
    • Learning groups, friends or other connections may not be determined to be a close contact
  • Public Health staff works closely with the school and school district throughout the case and contact management process to maintain close communication with the school community