COVID-19 and the Vancouver school board election

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      One of the best things about working in the media is the free education I receive.

      For that, I can thank my many teachers—many of whom happen to be people I've interviewed over the years.

      One of them is health policy researcher Andrew Longhurst, whose hard-edged and perceptive Twitter feed has become required reading for British Columbians interested learning about the pernicious effects of COVID-19.

      This week, he put out another tweet that forced me to stop what I was doing and think about what he had written.

      You can read it below.

      Longhurst was referring to a preprint paper that I wrote about on September 13. One of the coauthors was B.C. provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry, who has frequently assured parents that there are relatively few transmissions of COVID-19 in schools.

      This has also been advanced by Vancouver Coastal Health.

      Yet the paper coauthored by Henry showed that over the past year, the largest percentage increase in COVID-19 infections in the Vancouver Coastal and Fraser Health regions was recorded among those 19 years of age and younger.

      About 70 to 80 percent of this age category demonstrated "infection-induced seroprevalence" (level of pathogen in a population).

      Another one of my "teachers" on COVID-19, University of Toronto health researcher Colin Furness, put out a longer Twitter thread about the same study.

      "Flipping the narrative from kids being safe from COVID to kids being better off with...COVID is a real piece of reality manipulation," Furness wrote.

      You can read his entire thread below.

      Sadly, the tweets by my teachers on COVID-19, including Furness and Longhurst, are having little effect on the vast majority of people running for the Vancouver school board, including the incumbents.

      I held out hopes that perhaps OneCity Vancouver would see the light. But its recent platform for its trustee candidates did not explicitly support CO2 monitors or HEPA filters in classrooms.

      When I asked the party for clarification, this is what I was told by one of the OneCity's candidates, Rory Brown.

      "We support the introduction of HEPA filters in VSB schools, wherever possible. However, it's important to remember that, in some of our schools, due to the building's age, it may not be possible to put HEPA filters in place. In those situations, we support an evidence-based approach that finds the right COVID protection regime for the building, as well as the investments needed to improve its HVAC system such that HEPA filters can be put in place.

      "As an interim measure, we support CO2 monitoring in all classrooms, and want to work with the province to that end."

      If OneCity Vancouver truly supports CO2 monitoring in all classrooms, why wouldn't it include this promise in its platform? If the party is going to "work with the province to that end", it will never happen.

      That's because Henry, Health Minister Adrian Dix, and Education Minister Jennifer Whiteside have refused calls for over a year for these monitors, which have been installed in Quebec classrooms. (CO2 monitors measure the concentration of airborne carbon dioxide, which serves as a proxy for measuring the likelihood of COVID-19 virus in indoor air.)

      The other parties, with one exception, are the same or worse.

      They defer to the "experts" at Vancouver Coastal Health and the Provincial Health Office notwithstanding their dismal failure in preventing young people 19 years of age and younger from having the highest infection-related seropositivity rate in the region.

      The only Vancouver school board candidate who's willing to challenge this prevailing mindset is VOTE Socialist's Dr. Katrina Zeidler.

      She's a cofounder of Protect Our Province B.C., which is a grassroots group of physicians, nurses, health scientists, health policy specialists and community advocates who educate the public about evidence-based policies to stem the spread of COVID-19.

      Two of the group's many expert advisers are Longhurst and Furness.

      They don't get a lot of airtime in the media in comparison to Henry. But they have a message that's worth hearing for anyone with kids in the Vancouver school system.

      Zeidler is running to save lives and help reduce the likelihood of students, staff, and teachers enduring the misery of Long COVID.

      The best way to ensure that Zeidler gets elected is actually to only cast one vote for school board—for her. That's called "plumping".

      To do otherwise only lifts the vote totals of the many others who still believe that Henry and Dix know best even after the atrocious child and youth infection rates were revealed in the recent study.