Parents’ pressure group still unhappy after new Covid-19 test regime in schools announced
The Government’s new quarantine policy for close and casual contacts in schools is “overly complex, discriminatory and coercive”, a parents’ pressure group has claimed.
A spokeswoman for Us For Them Bermuda said: “Rather than a pragmatic policy on how to live with an endemic virus and prioritise children being in classrooms, this seems designed to meet other goals, for example, to manipulate more parents into agreeing to ongoing, twice-weekly testing of their children.”
She was speaking after Diallo Rabain, the education minister, announced new rules for schools on Tuesday.
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.
A close contact who tested positive inside three months will not have to quarantine under the new guidelines and in both cases they must monitor symptoms and take a lateral flow test for seven days.
Unvaccinated close contacts who take part in coronavirus screening programmes must take a negative PCR test to return to the classroom, monitor their symptoms and take daily lateral flow tests for a week.
Those who do not participate in regular screening must quarantine for 10 days.
The Us for Them spokeswoman said: “There does not seem to be a medical reason to treat a vaccinated child and an unvaccinated child differently – if neither one has tested positive for the virus.
“However, the ministry now intends to automatically quarantine unvaccinated children as close contacts, who do not participate in twice weekly testing, for 10 days.”
She added: “A test to stay policy is welcome to avoid full class quarantines, which Us For Them Bermuda believes the government has overly relied on to date, but test to stay should not discriminate in this way.
“All children who test negative should be allowed to return to class. Having regularly taken other tests up until that point in time does not make that child more or less of a risk to others.”
The group also questioned why children who earlier tested positive for the coronavirus could only escape quarantine as a close contact for three months because studies had suggested protection was long-lasting.
The spokeswoman said: “As we learn to live with the virus in Bermuda, we would ultimately like to see a move away from the continuous testing of asymptomatic children.”