The Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Education has taken strict measures to secure the health and safety of students and teachers as schools reopened on June 3rd 2020, for Grade 6 and Form 5 students.
As part of the precautions to prevent the potential spread of COVID-19, schools around the island facilitated both physical distancing and infection prevention and control measures.
Chief Environmental Health Officer, Parker Ragnanan, expressed confidence that schools will adhere to the protocols and affirmed that teaching will be executed in a safe environment.
Ragnanan remarked, “We are living in a new period; the issue of COVID-19 is a very real issue. We have seen what has happened in some places; you open up and if you are not ready in terms of having the measures in place to combat the spread of that dreaded virus you may end up with problems. Hence, the reasons why it is so important that the Ministry and primarily the schools and the principals implement those protocols and ensure they are in place all times. Again, it is the measures that will ensure health and well-being of the population at the school.”
Principal of the Dame Pearlette Louisy Primary School, Ethelene Leonce, spoke on the health protocols implemented at the school.
She stated, “We were very conscious of social distancing, so we first of all placed markers along the ground on entry so the students can keep their distance when coming on the compound. We also sent out letters to the parents stipulating that no one will be allowed on the compound without a mask. Parents were also asked to refrain from coming on the compound for anything except if it is an emergency.”
Leonce continued, “So we have only the children entering the compound. When students enter, they were informed in advance through the letter that they will stick to the markers and when they get to a point they will be sanitized. So we have our janitors; four janitors on the spot for sanitization who will spray and sanitized those students. From that point, the students will move to the next point where their temperature will be taken by two teachers who were trained to do that specifically.”
Another major component of the health protocols reported at the schools was the support of nurses who will provide their services upon request.
Assistant Principal Nursing Officer Tecla Jn. Baptiste spoke on this collaboration.
“Ahead of the reopening of schools, a contact list of healthcare facilities and regional supervisors has been circulated to all schools through the Department of Education. This is to facilitate ease of communication. The community health nurses will conduct regular visits to schools within their respective catchment areas. They will maintain regular contact with teachers and principals in order to address any concerns or any issues that may arise at the schools.”
The Ministry of Health advises that children with signs and symptoms of respiratory illness be kept at home or seek medical care at the nearest community respiratory clinics.