Dorm students to be tested for schools’ reopening – Health Minister
With the reopening of school set for January 4, the Health Ministry is taking all precautionary measures against COVID-19, by ensuring that testing is available for students staying at the dormitories.
During the latest update, Health Minister, Dr Frank Anthony shared that there is some level of transmissions in some communities and as such, persons returning to the dormitories will be retested.
During the reopening of schools in November, a similar system was in place to test dorm students and several tested positive for the novel coronavirus at President’s College. They were later isolated from the general population until recovery.
“Since the closure of school from the 18th December, many of the students who were once in dorms would have gone back home and we know that in some communities, there are transmissions of COVID-19. So, upon them returning on the 4th January 2021, we would want to ensure that we test them to make sure that they don’t have any signs of COVID. Once they’re negative, they will be placed in the general dormitories,” the Health Minister indicated.
Dr Anthony highlighted that there has been close collaboration with the Education Ministry to facilitate a smooth reopening for the new term. Along with contingency plans, they have also distributed adequate test kits to the regions.
“We have had a very detailed meeting with the Ministry of Education. Each Regional Health Officer and the Regional Education Officer have met and they have come up with their plans for the regions. On our side from the health perspective, we have sent out enough test kits. This include both antigen and PCR kits to the regions so that all students that are coming into the dorms, that we’ll be able to test them.”
Meanwhile, for the PCR tests, mechanisms have been implemented for a timely return of the results. Over the weekend as students trickle in, they will be tested.
“I think the plans are well in advanced and some of the students, we understand, would start coming in from Saturday. As they come into the different dorms, we have mechanisms in place to start doing the testing,” he shared.
Eight students, who were being housed at the President’s College dorm, had tested positive in November. That was out of a total of 139 students housed at the educational facility. All eight of them were from Region Eight (Potaro-Siparuni). After that, five teachers, six students and two ancillary staffers in Bartica, Region Seven (Cuyuni-Mazaruni) also tested positive.
Meanwhile, all swabs for COVID-19 from Region Nine (Upper Takutu-Upper Essequibo) students had returned negative.
The reopening of schools for Grades 10, 11 and 12 and those attending practical, technical and vocational institutes last year would have seen a high turnout of teachers and students. Schools across the country were closed on March 16, 2020, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Education Ministry gave parents the option of keeping their children home if they were uncomfortable sending them back to school in the COVID-19 situation. Parents can also opt to have their children transferred to the nearest secondary school – a process that can be completed in less than 24 hours.