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Saltus primary year sent home after some pupils test positive for the coronavirus

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The year 7 primary class at Saltus has been sent home because of the coronavirus (File photograph)
Diallo Rabain, the Minister of Education (File photograph)

An entire year at a private school’s primary department has been moved to remote learning for the rest of the week after some pupils tested positive for the coronavirus, it was revealed yesterday.

Saltus confirmed that “a large number” of year 7 pupils – 10 to 11 year olds – had been classed as close contacts of infected children and sent home.

A parent, who asked not to be named, said there were nine infections detected among almost 80 pupils, but about a third of the year group had attended school on Monday.

The parent added: “We were told at around 5pm on Monday the CMO ‘directed’ the entire year had to go out for the rest of the week. To my knowledge, there were no other positives.

“So, despite the new guidelines coming out last week, the CMO has now forced an entire year group from Saltus into remote learning.

“This is despite 90 plus per cent of them doing twice weekly tests, a large chunk already vaccinated and many Covid-recovered since Christmas – within the 3 month recovered window – and them all having to wear masks all day long.”

“The parent asked: ”What was the point of making the new guidance if it will not be adhered to?”

Diallo Rabain, the education minister, announced new close contact quarantine measures for schools on March 1.

The new regulations included the removal of the requirement for vaccinated close contacts of coronavirus-infected people to quarantine before they returned to in-class learning.

Other regulations were eased in a move designed to keep as many pupils in class as possible.

But Mr Rabain issued an additional note just after his initial announcement to underline that “orders to quarantine are solely under the remit of the Department of Health”.

It added: “Despite these changes, depending on the circumstance, the Department of Health may require persons to still quarantine.

“All persons quarantining under the previous guidelines must confirm with health if they can move to the revised guidelines.”

A spokeswoman for Saltus said: “Under the direction of the Chief Medical Officer, we have been advised to move the entire year 7 cohort to remote learning until March 13.

“These measures are being put into place to decrease the risk of further spread, continued exposure and prolonged isolation and quarantine.”

But pressure group Us For Them Bermuda said healthy children who were vaccinated against the coronavirus and tested on a regular basis would miss out on classroom learning.

A spokeswoman for the group said: “Schoolchildren continue to suffer learning loss and isolation as the rest of Bermuda moves on.”

She asked: “What is the point of having the children take two Covid tests per week if the health authorities do not consider the results of these relevant to whether children remain in the classroom?

“Why are we still isolating healthy children? The majority of these students have negative tests and should remain in school.”

The spokeswoman said: “We need to prioritise the children but we continue to restrict them at every opportunity.

“We firmly believe all restrictions should be scrapped now and masks must be made optional.”

The spokeswoman questioned why, if the health ministry “believed cloth masks had an effect on classroom transmission”, a whole year group had been quarantined.

The Ministry of Health was asked under what circumstances large groups of pupils were removed from their classrooms, but officials did not respond by press time.

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Published March 09, 2022 at 7:42 am (Updated March 09, 2022 at 7:42 am)

Saltus primary year sent home after some pupils test positive for the coronavirus

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