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There have been three confirmed cases of COVID-19 at Merritt Secondary School (MSS).

SD58 Nicola-Similkameen Superintendent Steve McNiven joined Q101 News Monday Morning to provide clarity into the situation at MSS and state that three positive cases have been confirmed by the Interior Health Authority.

“Since winter break, Interior Health has confirmed three positive cases amongst members of Merritt Secondary School,” said McNiven. “Our first letter went out January 6, the most recent date on those community letters is January 12. So, sometime between those dates, we’ve had three of those positive cases confirmed by Interior Health.”

Confusion over the total of cases was spurred by additional letters being sent to parents by Interior Health (IH).

While some students have been forced to self-isolate by order of IH, many others have been absent by choice.

“We went into the end of last week with low attendance and hoping to rebuild that this week by having students return to us in greater numbers. We’re really going to support that process,” said McNiven. “I’d ask parents to call the school. I think there is misinformation out there and we want parents to be given the accurate information so they can make a decision for themselves and their students.”

McNiven also outlined the current procedures in place at schools in the district to help prevent the future spread of COVID-19.

“With these exposures certainly comes some extra cleaning on our part. Really want parents to know that deep cleaning is taking place on a regular basis. We have our fog-sprayers in the school on a daily basis at MSS. The same twice a day cleaning across our district,” said McNiven.

“Many of the protocols that we’re reinforcing are really the most basic ones, that includes hand washing, mask-wearing where appropriate, daily health checks, distancing. We also have some structures in place to help with our transitions, so we have multiple lunch breaks for example at Merritt Secondary,” added McNiven.

The three cases at MSS are the only confirmed cases with a school community in Merritt throughout the pandemic.

“We also want to support the health and safety of all our community members. So making sure we’re all doing our best out there to keep ourselves safe by following protocols outside the school and in the community,” said McNiven.

“We want to wish the best, we know through Interior Health three of our members are going through a positive situation and we want them to be as healthy as possible and our minds and thoughts go towards them and their families,” concluded McNiven.


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Water Leak

The City of Merritt is informing Merrittonians of a water leak affecting residents on Priest Avenue and Parcel Street.

“Please note water has been turned off to citizens in this area. A City of Merritt Public Works crew is currently working on-site to fix the water leak. Residents should expect water interruptions for up to 8 hours,” said Communications Manager Will George.

Updates will be provided when they become available.


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Merritt Flourish Under the Sun

Merritt City Council has approved a grant application to fund the repairs to the KVR pedestrian bridge west of town.

If successful, the grant application will fund 100 per cent of the project which will cost approximately $80,000.

The KVR Pedestrian Bridge crosses the Nicola River just before the Coldwater and Nicola Rivers meet. The pedestrian bridge connects to the Coldwater River Trail.

“In April 2020, a bridge inspection report completed by Watson Engineering indicated that the structural integrity of the bridge was damaged due to erosion of the concrete footings supporting the bridge. They recommended temporary emergency repairs due to Freshet timing. The inspection report is included in the attached grant application,” said Public Works Superintendent Charlie Henderson.

“The project is a retrofit and repair of infrastructure damage, due to freshet erosion, to the footings of the KVR Pedestrian Bridge,” added Henderson.

If approved, the work would be done during the summer, allowing all activities to occur above the water with no impact or disruption to aquatic habitat or water flow.


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School District 58 Nicola-Similkameen is once again informing parents of a positive case of COVID-19 among the community at Merritt Secondary School.

This is the third letter distributed by the school district in the past week informing parents and students of positive COVID-19 cases.

The exposure is stated to have occurred on January 6-8, 11, 12, 2021.

The Interior Health Authority is responsible for contact tracing for the positive cases at MSS and will contact anybody who needs to self-isolate as a result of the exposure at the school.

In a letter sent home earlier this week, SD58 Superintendent Steve McNiven outlined what steps are being taken by the district.

“In response to these exposures and increased level of anxiety, we want to remind and reassure you that we are following both Public Health and Ministry of Education COVID-19 protocols in all of our schools. These protocols provide greater control over the learning and work environment and are helping to provide increased safety for both students and staff. The protocols in place at all schools help reduce the likelihood of transmission and have proven to be effective across the province in supporting the health and safety of the members of our learning community,” wrote McNiven.


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Merritt COVID Jan 18

The BC Centre for Disease Control has released the latest Merritt specific COVID-19 data, covering the week of January 3-9, 2021. The data was delayed due to a lack of information for some areas in the province.

Two weeks ago, the area reported nine cases of the virus, the highest weekly increase throughout the pandemic.

That number was beaten for the week of January 3-9, the most recent week being reported, with 10 new cases.

Already in 2021, the Merritt area has seen positive cases of the virus at Merritt Secondary along with local restaurants.

There were 12 cases confirmed in all of December plus the first two days of the new year.

For comparison, the Kamloops area recorded 62 new cases this week, and Kelowna announced 110.

The latest figures are scheduled to be released on Wednesday.


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