by JP Schwmon #SituationUpdates
An update, which was recently published via the Ministry of Health, Wellness and the Environment’s official Facebook page, announced, “no new applications for fully vaccinated events January 12 – February 12 2022 will be accepted at this time.”
The media brief was dated January 13 and was issued under the auspices of the Health Services Sub-Committee with the Chief Medical Officer – Dr. Simone Keizer-Beache – listed as the contact person. The advisory panel took the opportunity to remind the Vincentian public “that the mass gathering protocols for indoor and outdoor gatherings (maximum of 10 persons indoors, 20 persons outdoors and 1\3 of the place of worship’s capacity) are still in effect.
“These gatherings include, but are not limited to clubs, bars, restaurants, wedding, funerals, conference rooms, churches and private gatherings.”
The fact that multiple strains including, the Gamma, Mu, Delta and Omicron variants have been identified in local communities and a “significant increase in the number of new infections and transmissions” were touted as primary factors driving the “strict enforcement and compliance with all protocols.”
Interestingly, the 4-paragraph release concluded without any mention of the Health Services Subcommittee’s recommendations regarding the worsening COVID-19 situation at schools nationwide – an observation made by one promoter when contacted by Asbert News Network for a response.
“Government don’t see entertainment as essential. Why are schools still open?” he posited.
When asked whether or not the Health Services Subcommittee would recommend either a system-wide return to online schooling or a blended approach, Dr. Keizer-Beache noted, “the schools are adjusting based on their individual capacities and infections guided by a protocol shared by the MOE with the schools.”
Efforts to find the referenced document have so far been unproductive. ANN attempted to verify with officials at the Ministry of Education; one of whom claimed that she was not aware of any such document being sent out to local schools. That MOE staffer, Ms. Small, noted she was made privy to an electronically available document that was recently confirmed as authentic but did not divulge its contents.
However, ANN was able to procure a copy of a recent circular that was dispatched by one to the parents of one primary school.
That document announced Friday 14th was “a half day for all schools” while listing several “COVID-19 new procedures for students.”
Amongst those was advice for managing vaccinated and unvaccinated students who test positive for the SARS-CoV-2 virus including the number of days each type of infected pupil ought to isolate and what should happen on the eventual return to school.
Unvaccinated or not, infected students are expected to “wear a K9/KN95 mask for 5 days” upon their return to school. “After this you may wear your ordinary mask,” that release further noted.
Again nothing was said regarding the cessation of face-to-face classes nationwide.
ANN understands that several schools have since implemented individual strategies to cope with the growing infection and transmission rate within their population.
Acting on information received, we contacted all of the schools being managed by the local Catholic Church Diocese and found only St. Joseph’s Convent Marriaqua to be operational. A staffer at Gomea Methodist Primary confirmed that the number of cases on that compound has become alarming which might have contributed to the rumor that her school was closed. It also appears that the Emmanuel High School in Mesopotamia has closed its doors since none of our calls to that campus were answered.
The Georgetown Secondary School informed its parent/student population of its move “to suspend all face-to-face classes for the next two weeks from Wednesday 12th January 2022 to Friday 21st January 2022, in the first instance. This means that the time may have to be extended, depending on the situation.”
Online classes were reintroduced at that institution “due to the recent surge in Covid-19 positive cases and the high level of exposure for both students and teachers.”
Several other schools including the St. Vincent Girls’ High School and C.W Prescod Primary adapted their modus operandi in response to the worsening situation.
The GHS population would host all classes virtually for one week from Monday January 17 and then try a blended approach from Monday January 24 while the C.W Prescod Primary promised to update its population of any changes to its “fully online” tutorials – which they switched to on January 17 – “at the end of said week.