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Teachers warn of return to remote work if Covid cases continue to rise

Parents of children at a Warwick primary have been warned of a Covid-19 exposure risk after a Covid-19 case was linked to the school.

Pupils and staff at Purvis Primary School will be tested today from 1.30pm to 3.30pm on a drive through basis at the school playing field.

The news came after the epidemiology and surveillance unit of the Ministry of Health said a full assessment on the potential exposure would be carried out in a message to parents and staff at the school.

The message added: “The person confirmed with Covid-19 has been isolated.

“The ESU is contacting close contacts. These persons are being advised that they must quarantine – stay home from school and other activities – and get tested for Covid-19.”

The report made Purvis the sixth school with a potential exposure this week.

The Bermuda Union of Teachers said that it would monitor the situation – and did not rule out a demand to return to remote education.

A BUT spokesman said: “In the event that this current wave is not arrested and cases continue rise, we will be seeking more comprehensive actions, which will include the possibility of a return to remote learning.”

He added: “As always, the safety and health of all our school citizens is our highest priority and we will not allow our members to be put in harm’s way.”

The spokesman said that communication from the health and education ministries “needs to be better” on school quarantine rules and that the authorities had to show they had a firm grasp “of what is going on in relation to Covid-19 in every school”.

He added: “We are trusting the competence of the health department as this time, but we will not hesitate to act in the best interests of our members, as well as the wider community, if the situation does not start to improve soon.”

Diallo Rabain, the education minister, said a meeting of the Education Emergency Measures Committee decided on Thursday to keep school doors open.

But he added extra measures would be introduced to combat the spread of the coronavirus.

Mr Rabain said, in the event of a risk, the department of health would liaise with the education department, which would alert staff, parents, the EEMC other schools and the public.

Any pupil who tested positive would lead to them, their school “bubble” and close contacts being quarantined and tested.

Casual contacts at school would be tested using a saliva test inside a day of the notification of infection.

A risk assessment would also be carried out and further steps taken if required.

Dellwood Middle School and Northlands Primary, both Pembroke, the Whitney Institute Middle School in Smith’s, Paget Primary and Devonshire Preschool have been logged as at risk over the past few days.

The news of the Purvis exposure came after the Ministry of Health reported an increase in Covid-19 cases with 18 new infections announced yesterday and another six today.

There are 48 active cases being monitored by health officials, but none are in hospital.

The Ministry of Health earlier warned that customers at Legends Bar, on Somerset Road, Sandys between March 6 and March 12 may have been exposed, as well a people who visited the Blue Water Angler’s Club on East Broadway near Hamilton last Wednesday.

A health ministry spokeswoman last night confirmed most of the new cases were the more virulent UK variant of Covid-19.

She added: “Investigations are ongoing, but this outbreak appears to be linked to social gatherings which took place in February.”

The spokeswoman said the Government was concerned by any spike in the number of infections and its potential impact on healthcare services.

She added: “Any increase in cases is of concern when it comes to our hospital capacity.”

Renee Ming, the Minister of National Security, told the House of Assembly yesterday that the Bermuda Police Service submitted 12 files to the Department of Prosecution yesterday for breaches of Covid-19 rules.

She added: “To date, the DPP has received 22 files in total for curfew violations and non-compliance to the Covid-19 regulations and more continue to be submitted regularly.”

Ms Ming said that recent breaches of the Covid-19 regulations were a major problem.

She added: “Through traditional news media and social media, many of us have seen the evidence of parties and gatherings that exceed the approved group gathering limits.

“The fact that the attendees of these events also violated the health and safety protocols by not wearing masks or practising physical distancing further compounds the recklessness of hosting these events.”

She promised the people responsible would be held to account.

Ms Ming said: “These regulations are not meant to be punitive. They have been enacted to minimise the impact of Covid-19 with the hope that we will soon be able to safely gather together again.”

She added legislation to introduce fixed penalties for Covid-19 breaches was still being drafted.

Ms Ming added the legislation would probably not be retroactive, but people involved in recent breaches could still be prosecuted and fined.

She said the ministry had received a number of large gathering requests for the Good Friday holiday on April 2.

Ms Ming told the public: “Please note that a careful review will be done before there can be an approval of any event.”

She appealed for common sense over the Easter holiday period.

Ms Ming added: “We all must continue to do what we can to mitigate and limit the spread of the virus by complying with the policy in place.”

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Published March 20, 2021 at 8:37 am (Updated March 20, 2021 at 8:37 am)

Teachers warn of return to remote work if Covid cases continue to rise

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