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More than 20 public schools pass testing threshold for classroom teaching

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Diallo Rabain, Minister of Education (File photograph by Akil Simmons)

Three public schools have reopened their classrooms and 18 others have crossed the Covid-19 screening threshold to return to in-person teaching.

Diallo Rabain, the Minister of Education, said 21 of the islands 36 schools had received more than the 80 per cent parental consent for saliva testing needed to reopen.

Mr Rabain added: “These schools have either completed or are being scheduled for their pre-return testing.

“I want to take this time to congratulate these schools, especially Southampton Preschool, which returned to in-person learning yesterday, and St Paul’s Preschool and Lagoon Preschool, which returned to in-class learning today.”

He added that the Gilbert Institute had been scheduled to reopen today but the date was pushed back until Monday so the school could receive additional cleaning.

Port Royal Primary and West Pembroke Primary are also expected to reopen on Monday.

Victor Scott Preschool, East End Primary, Purvis Primary, Prospect Primary and Success Academy at Robert’s Avenue have also crossed the threshold, with parents and staff “on standby” for a possible return next week.

Mr Rabain said that ten other schools had crossed the 80 per cent threshold.

These were Dellwood Middle School, Elliot Primary, Heron Bay Primary, Lyceum Preschool, Northlands Primary, St David’s Primary, St George’s Prep, St George’s Preschool, Victor Scott Primary and Warwick Preschool.

He said: “These schools will be scheduled for PCR pre-return testing, and parents and guardians can expect to receive notification of the location, dates and time to meet.”

Mr Rabain added: “We hope to see more parents give consent and more schools opening in the coming weeks.

“It is critical that we reopen our schools for in-person learning and keep them open. The screening programme is critical for this.”

Mr Rabain said that island-wide the consent rate had reached 77 per cent, although 15 public schools had yet to pass the 80 per cent mark needed.

He added he did not have the consent figures for the schools that had not crossed the threshold, but that there had been significant changes week to week.

Mr Rabain highlighted that St David’s Primary had passed 80 per cent this week but that the school was the lowest on the list last week.

He said: “We are just going to keep working on it, talking and getting the word out there that this is a non-invasive test, it’s a screening test.”

Mr Rabain added the ministry had been asked why there was a need for pre-return testing and about the Government’s powers to require it.

He said: “We all need to do what’s best for the safety of our entire school population.

“It should be a given that knowing your Covid-19 status before returning to school is something all of us would want.

“Our stance is firm, and it is supported by the Education Act and the Occupational Safety and Health Act.”

Mr Furbert said there were good reasons why schools that had not hit the 80 per cent consent mark could not reopen with the children whose parents had consented to testing.

Mr Rabain said teachers could not operate both in-person classes and remote classes at the same time.

But he added that further consideration would be needed if the 80 per cent threshold was not met in some schools.

Mr Rabain said the Department of Education would organise online discussions to hear from parents about their concerns about the Covid-19 screening programme.

He added the department had been in discussions with the Ministry of Health about safety protocols and quarantine policies.

Mr Rabain said: “We all agree that positive cases will be found as we grapple with the pandemic, but a more nuanced approach for quarantining positive students needs to be developed.

“It is the desire not to have to quarantine the entire class if a positive case is detected in that class.”

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Published October 09, 2021 at 8:01 am (Updated October 09, 2021 at 8:01 am)

More than 20 public schools pass testing threshold for classroom teaching

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