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Covid-19: teachers to limit off-campus visits

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Public-school teachers are being discouraged from leaving their school premises during the working day to prevent the spread of Covid-19.

Kalmar Richards, the Commissioner of Education, said in a memo sent last Wednesday: “The reason for this is because the Department of Health has indicated that there are safety and health risks when staff leave during the day and return to classrooms, which place them into direct contact with students and when they return to school, and then come into contact with other staff.”

Ms Richards set out a list of ten safety measures that teachers must follow in the event that they do leave the premises for lunch breaks or appointments.

These include wearing a mask, signing in on their return using a sanitised pen, and recording the name and location of any establishment that they visited while off the premises.

All cleaning, sanitising and physical-distancing protocols set out by the Department of Health must be adhered to, and staff eating in classrooms must sanitise their table tops, wash their hands and completely dry them.

Ms Richards added that staff should not return to the premises out of school hours unless they are working on after-school programmes.

She said: “I also want to advise you that as we navigate the Covid-19 pandemic, cleaning, sanitising and disinfecting become even more important.

“To enable school custodians to carry out this work at the end of each school day, all school staff are asked to leave the building no later than 4.45pm each day.

“The only staff remaining on site will be staff who are a part of the after-school programme.

“Staff are also asked to refrain from coming back into the building later in the evening or night, or during weekends, after the building has been environmentally sanitised, so that the environment can remain clean and intact, for staff and students at the start of each new school day.”

A spokeswoman for the Department of Education said it had asked teachers to help mitigate the risk of Covid-19 spread by “limiting off-campus visits”.

She said: “This safety measure will also assist the Department of Health with determining whether the safety measures that are being implemented in schools mitigate the transmission of the Covid-19 virus.

“Our safety and health protocols do encourage parents not to make appointments for their children during the day.

“School staff and students are encouraged to remain on the premises, particularly at the primary and middle-school levels. Senior-school protocols for students will be amended next week.”

The spokeswoman added: “While we are in this early stage of school reopening, we will continue to follow the Department of Health guidelines and make adjustments to school safety measures as advised by the Department of Health.”

Safety measures: Kalmar Richards, the Commissioner of Education (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)

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Published September 21, 2020 at 8:00 am (Updated September 21, 2020 at 1:31 pm)

Covid-19: teachers to limit off-campus visits

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