Bermuda Post

Thursday, Apr 15, 2021

COVID-19: Students, Staff and Parents Remain Ministry of Education's Main Concern

COVID-19: Students, Staff and Parents Remain Ministry of Education's Main Concern

The Minister of Education, the Hon. Diallo Rabain, JP, MP, has this afternoon released the following statement to provide the public with an update as we navigate the impact of COVID-19 in our public schools.
Minister Rabain stated, "Bermuda, as we continue to evaluate the evidence, the data, and the psychological impact of where we are as an island, we want to reassure you that the safety and health of our students, school staff, parents, and the community at large remains our top priority."

"On Wednesday, March 31st the Education Emergency Measures Committee (EEMC) met to discuss the proposed introduction of a saliva testing screening strategy for schools and to discuss the safe return to in-school learning."

The School Saliva Testing Coordinator at the Molecular Diagnostic Laboratory (MDL) gave an overview of the proposed saliva testing pilot program introduced during the week before the Easter break. During this period, 574 students and 142 staff members were tested at 7 schools with two (2) positives identified. The purpose of the program is to provide proactive, regular screening testing within our schools, both public and private, to help indicate a potential exposure to COVID as early as possible."

Minister Rabain stated, "We were grateful to hear the positive feedback regarding saliva testing from the Government's Molecular Diagnostics Lab (MDL) Team. The EEMC was informed that the pilot program was able to identify two positive cases which may have gone undetected much longer if the testing did not occur."

"The data shared reaffirmed that our decision to pro-actively expand routine saliva testing to all schools across the system, instead of waiting for notification of potential COVID-19 exposure, is truly in the best interest of our schools. We look forward to further developing the program to include a weekly, bi-weekly and monthly testing regime."

As the Government continues to navigate this pandemic with transparency, we have advised the public that we will release additional information about our Schools once further details are known. To this end, I can report the following updates:

Devonshire Preschool; Purvis Primary; Northlands Primary School; Paget Primary; Dellwood Middle School; Whitney Institute; West Pembroke; Elliot;

The Chief Medical Officer has advised that students, parents, families, teachers, and staff, previously advised to quarantine and have completed the Day 14 test with negative results, may be released from quarantine. An official letter from the Department of Health and a letter from the School has been issued to persons this release applies to. Only persons receiving these specific directions from the DOH and the school are released from Quarantine.

Lagoon Park Preschool; St. David’s Preschool; St. David’s Primary; Prospect Primary;

Based on the risk assessment by the Ministry of Health, after a confirmed COVID exposure, the Chief Medical Officer has issued a directive for certain persons to quarantine. An official letter from the Department of Health along with a letter from the School has been issued to persons required to quarantine. Only persons receiving specific directions from the DOH and school are required to quarantine.

Berkeley Institute

Based on an updated risk assessment by the Ministry of Health, and in accordance with the Public Health Act 1949 and the Public Health (COVID-19) Regulations 2020, the Chief Medical Officer directed that all students, teachers and staff (excluding students, teachers and staff already in quarantine) must be tested for COVID-19.

Special testing took place at the School on Saturday, April 3rd.

Minister Rabain concluded, "As we navigate this pandemic as a community, we want to reassure you that we are using the evidence and data presented to us to make proactive decisions that will not only ensure safety and health but also prioritise student learning."

"We continue to work collaboratively with the Ministry of Health and the Bermuda Union of Teachers to encourage more school staff to get vaccinated over the extended Easter Break."

"Bermuda, I would like to remind you that each of us has a role to play in stopping the spread of the coronavirus. Follow Public Health guidelines, wear a mask, practice good hand hygiene, maintain physical distance and download the WeHealth Bermuda app. If you have not already, register to get vaccinated."

"The Education Emergency Measures Committee (EEMC) will meet again this week to further strategise and will provide an update to the public on the return of in-school learning."

The representatives of the EEMC (Education Emergency Measures Committee) include the Ministry of Education, the Department of Education, the Bermuda Union of Teachers, the Bermuda Public Services Union, the Bermuda Industrial Union, the Department of Health, the Department of Communications, a Private School Representative and Members of the Legislature.
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