Tri-Cities parents concerned as U.K. COVID-19 variant pops up in neighbouring school districts

Calls are mounting to toughen COVID-19 safety precautions in elementary schools.

Good morning. My name is Morgan Powell – welcome to the very first Tri-Cities Dispatch newsletter. First off, I want to say thank you for being one of the first 150 people to sign-up for our newsletter. 

You’re probably wondering just what is the Tri-Cities Dispatch. We’re a new non-profit news outlet serving the Tri-Cities area. We’ll be sharing updates about our plans in the coming weeks so stay tuned!

Whether you live in Coquitlam, Port Moody, Port Coquitlam, Anmore or Belcarra, this newsletter will help you stay informed about everything going on in the Tri-Cities.

And with that, please enjoy the very first edition of the Tri-Cities Dispatch. 

Local news that matters to you

No one covers the Tri-Cities like we do. But we need your help to keep our community journalism sustainable.

What’s happening: Seven schools in Surrey and Delta have had confirmed cases of the COVID-19 variant that originated in the U.K. Parents in the Tri-Cities area have expressed concern that the variant may spread from neighbouring communities into their local elementary schools. 

After learning of a case at Garibaldi Secondary School in Maple Ridge, Reni Mochdie, a parent with children in school at Port Coquitlam, called the situation “terrifying” and felt as though her “kids are being put on the front line without any protection.” 

Is it spreading? There has been no reported transmission of these cases in the Surrey and Delta school district, but teachers across B.C. believe that more can be done to minimize the spread.

  • The BC Teachers Federation is currently advocating to allow individual jurisdictions to make masks mandatory in elementary schools. 

Changes coming soon: Dr. Bonnie Henry has hinted that COVID-19 guidance for schools may be updated.  

  • From Dr. Henry: “I do think it’s important to enforce the mask wearing that we have in the school setting, and particularly in light of variants that we’re seeing in our community”.

But as of Tuesday, the Ministry of Education had no update on when those changes might take place.

Parents are also calling for greater transparency as cases continue to spread to schools.

Lay down a picnic blanket, kick off your shoes, and crack open a cold can of cider. This spring you can look forward to a boozy picnic in the park.

The City of Port Coquitlam recently declared that alcohol consumption is permitted in seven parks across the city – Aggie Park, Castle Park, Cedar Park, Evergreen Park, Gates Park, Lions Park, and Settlers Park. The decision was made based on the success of a four-month pilot project completed last summer. 

Why the change? The initial pilot stated that a primary reason for introducing this project was to allow people to consume alcohol in a safe socially-distanced environment. 

  • Port Coquitlam Mayor Brad West: “For many of residents our parks are an extensions of their back yard, this allows them the opportunity to socialize together in a city park”

Elsewhere: Port Coquitlam isn’t the only one adopting this policy. North Vancouver passed a by-law last summer, and Vancouver is considering the idea.

A parent whose child plays for the Port Moody Amateur Hockey Association says that the league has not been transparent about the number of people that have been infected by COVID-19.

What’s being reported: Port Moody Amateur Hockey Association publicly released that four of its members have contracted the virus. 

The controversy: The parent denies these numbers and says that in reality nine players have been infected as well as family members, coaches, and others who have had close contact with the team. Port Moody Amateur Hockey Association has suspended practices for the time-being. 

Events

  • Coding for Girls: This Friday from 10 – 11 AM (virtual) Hackergal is hosting a free online Zoom webinar. This program is intended to be an introduction to coding for girls Grades 6 to 9. 
  • Celebrate Love and Kindness: This Saturday at 6 PM Coquitlam’s United Way is hosting an online Zoom event that celebrates love and acts of kindness. 
  • Heritage Live! Love is Eternal: This Friday from 12 – 1 PM Coquitlam Heritage is hosting a Facebook live event that will explore the history of Valentine’s Day across different cultures and traditions.

In Other News

  • A new garden centre is hoping to temporarily occupy an empty lot in downtown Port Moody. There are currently no retail garden stores in Port Moody.
  • Do you ever hike the Coquitlam Crunch? The City of Coquitlam is looking for community input for the trail’s planned south extension. 
  • Coquitlam engineers are hard at work, with over 80 planned projects underway for 2021. 
  • Metro Vancouver is expecting to test for microplastics in drinking water for the first time. Testing will take place at the Seymour-Capilano and Coquitlam filtration plants.

One More Thing

Did you know that the proper term for someone who lives in Coquitlam is “Coquitlamite”? Shauna Scheithauer posted in the Coquitlam Community Group on Facebook asking what the correct term to use is. 

Responses from other members included a wide array of suggestions such as CoCos, Coquitlamers, and Coqs. Scheithauer is a human geographer and was ecstatic to find that the Government of Canada actually has a list of proper demonyms for Canadian cities that lists “Coquitlamite” next to Coquitlam . 

What do you think? If you live in Coquitlam, have you ever called yourself a Coquitlamite? Or is that just too weird? Let us know what you think!

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