Principals in St. Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) have been told that each school should “develop protocols for ill teachers, staff and students” amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.

“As far as possible, ill persons should be separated from the school population while undergoing or awaiting assessment,” the Ministry of Health, Wellness and the Environment said, on Wednesday, in a document entitled “Key points to guide the reopening of schools”

Schools in SVG should have reopened last week Monday after the Easter break.

However, classes were suspended for a further two weeks because of the novel coronavirus, 13 cases of which have been confirmed in SVG.

In a Facebook post this week, Minister of Health, Senator Luke Browne said that school would remain closed for an additional two weeks.

On Wednesday, the Ministry of Health said a thermometer (preferably non-contact) should be used for objectively evaluating body temperature.

It also advised that a process for promptly informing parents/guardians and health care officials should be established.

The ministry also told principals that flexible attendance and sick leave policies should be introduced for both students and teachers alike.

“This will allow for sick persons to remain at home and for caregivers to provide care for ill family members,” the ministry said.

The document, however, said school attendance should be monitored for frequent absence among staff and students due to illness.

“The Ministry of Health should be informed about increased absenteeism due to respiratory illness.”

In the event of school disruption, school authorities should work with vulnerable students to ensure continuation of their needs (school feeding, counselling, etc.).

Principals were also called upon to promote and teach proper and regular hand washing to students.

They were advised to do this by:

  • Ensuring soap and clean running water is always available;
  • Installing additional water fountains/hand washing stations to adequately meet the needs of the school population;
  • Encouraging frequent hand washing for staff and students;
  • Placing hand sanitizers at entrances and exits, hallways, classrooms and staff rooms;
  • Ensuring toilet facilities are kept clean throughout the school day.

The Ministry of Health said that school building must be cleaned and disinfected each day.

“Particular attention should be paid to doors, railings, toilets/bathrooms and frequently touched surfaces such as lunch tables, desks, chairs, windows, teaching aides, etc.,” the document said.

It said that cleaning should be done with 0.5% hypochlorite solution and 70% ethanol for small surface areas.

Principals were also called upon to post signage to encourage hand and respiratory hygiene.

Schools are to ensure solid waste is removed daily and open windows to encourage increased air flow where possible.

As part of the promotion of physical distancing measures, principals were told to:  

  • Cancel assemblies, PTA and staff meetings, sports, games and other events that encourage mass gatherings;
  • Stagger the beginning and ending of the school day;
  • Stagger the times for break and lunch;
  • Where possible, ensure work stations (classrooms, staffrooms, labs), for students and teachers, are at least three feet apart;
  • Where possible, reduce the number of persons on the school compound at any given time;
  • Encourage non students and teachers not to be present on the school premises unless absolutely necessary;
  • Where possible school provisions should be delivered outside of school hours;
  • Avoid teaching methods that require group work or gatherings of any sort.

The health ministry also said principals should conduct sensitisation for both teachers and students alike, regarding the spread and consequences of COVID-19 with clearly defined pathways to counselling where necessary.

20 replies on “SVG’s principals given ‘key points to guide the reopening of schools’”

  1. Luke Brown is a nappy chinks and a gonsalves stick man. GOD HELP US ALL. Who is going to wake up one day and find themselves SUFFERING with Corvid19? Teeth-gnashing, sweating and cursing will be his final act.

  2. If any child or teacher becomes ill due to this process Ralph Gonsalves, Luke Brown and Simone Keiser-Beache must be held fully responsible and should be open to paying compensation to people and families affected by their recommendation’s and actions.

    Let them be hereby put on notice that the Vincentian people are watching closely, and hold them responsible.

    Sending children back to school during a pandemic crisis is little more than a crime against humanity.

    A loss of education is a better choice than loss of life.

    1. Education is on a COMPLETE stand still and neither children nor parents are benefiting from it. You’d Blame the government for the attempt to reopen schools and blame any sickness on them yet the parents and guardians go out to work each day facing the same risk and bringing it back home to the same children which are to be protected. If it hasn’t reached a state of emergency in the country, Let The government feel to do what’s necessary for the progression of the country and it’s citizens. If you and yours choose to not follow instructions of the people who know Blame YoUrSeLf

      1. You are of course correct Nicole. They may catch it from their parents, But they do not then take it to school and infect the whole class who then take it home to granny and grandpa, and kill all the old folk.

        You obviously still do not understand.

      2. And the other problem is they really do not know either, so following them may just kill a lot of people.

        We must watch the big countries where the politicians are not quite as stupid as ours.

      3. I wonder if Nichole has a child or children and is more interested in getting them to school to have some freedom for herself, rather than being interested in the safety of her child (ren). Covid-19 is still a very serious pandemic. Therefore, while I respect Nichole’s opinion, it is not the sensible thing to be in a hurry to send children back to school at great risks to their health and life. Education doesn’t have to be totally lost. Presently, teachers have been sending work to parents or directly to children using some forms of social media. Teaching online is taking place in some cases. True, not all students may benefit, since some may not have devices, but saving lives is far more important than attempting to get secular education as one writer mentioned. Further, capable parents and guardians should make an effort to help their children at home with obtaining an education in the meantime. In the days of the Israelites of Bible times, parents were primarily responsible for their children’s education.

  3. Dr. Christian Anderson says:

    This makes no sense at all. Our medical services do not have the capacity to handle any surge. What if our children take the virus home to their old grandparents. What studies have been done to assess the degree of penetrance of the Corona virus. How many antibody tests have been done. This remains a NOVEL virus. (Dr. Christian Anderson)

  4. Vincy Lawyer says:

    YOU ALL SERIOUSLY STILL CONTEMPLATING REOPENING SCHOOLS?

    I GUESS THE TEACHERS WILL BE TALKING TO THE DESKS AND CHAIRS BECAUSE I WANT TO KNOW WHO RESPONSIBLE PARENT IS SENDING THEIR CHILDREN TO SCHOOL IN THIS UNCERTAIN PANDEMIC.

    THAY ENTIRE GUIDELINE IS GARBAGE AND NOT EVEN PRACTICAL. GOD FORBID, IT TAKES ONE OUTBREAK IN ANY SCHOOL AND THEN WHAT?

    THIS MINISTRY MUST BE MAD.

  5. This is nonsense talk . They always talk talk and more talk when it comes to the reality nothing is being done as planned . My child is a high risk for this virus and I will not function at all knowing he put back to school .

  6. Professor King says:

    As a result of the novelty of the pandemic situation, these guidelines are somewhat generalized. It is my opinion that more specific guidance is needed. For example, clearly state that grade k to grade 3 should attend classes from 9 to 1 Mondays and Tuesdays, and Grade 4 to Grade 6 should attend classes 9 to 1 on Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays. I am just thinking out loud: for example, how in heavens are we going to ensure social distancing among children in classrooms and playgrounds?

  7. Soyini Clarke-Palmer says:

    As an asthmatic teacher myself functioning in an institution with several high risk asthmatic students this type of decision is a recipe for disaster. Let us ALL please call upon God for full, clear wisdom and guidance in making decisions that affect our entire nation. SVG does not have a health care system to deal with a serious outbreak of this pandemic in our nation. We do not need to be giving space for choices that can easily result in our people’s demise. As the Bible rightly says in Proverbs 4:7, “Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding”. This is what we ALL need at this time. Wise decisions are imperative at a time when there is NO ROOM for mistakes, luck and chance, foolishness, etc. I am fully aware of the challenges some students, teachers, parents and caregivers are encountering being at home presently. It is wiser for us to work on putting systems in place to deal with issues on the home front than bringing mass numbers of students together in common spaces. We have a large group of sailors coming into the country next week. We have to monitor the implications of that and yet we are attempting to mix the reopening of schools in the midst. Please let us ALL be WISE in decision making. Up to yesterday I noticed London had 17,000 deaths from COVID-19. Someone please do the math. God forbid that to happen here. Yes we believe in God and are of the opinion that we are a Christian nation protected by His Mighty Right Hand, but we do not need to be like the five foolish virgins with no oil in our lamp. The Word tells us to be wise and not wise in OUR OWN limited eyes. Let us exercise wisdom in ALL things at this time and seek the Most High for beneficial direction.

  8. These guidelines are far-fetched! How can you there be social distancing in /classrooms/staffrooms that are already overcrowded?

  9. Real Thinker says:

    So it seems like we planning on reopening soon??? Seriously??? These people mad. And they taking away stuff that have the kids outside in sunlight and open air that is noted by professionals all over the world as beneficial in the fight to contain the spread of the virus?? Wonderful SVG!

  10. Monica Malcolm says:

    Social distancing or physical distancing necessitates additional teaching staff as there would be more classrooms used. Let us consider also the amount of monitoring that is needed at these facilities; playgrounds, water fountains, and bathrooms where a lot of sneezing and coughing take place.
    We all want to get on with the economy, but an overwhelmed healthcare system is bad for the economy. Think carefully; choose wisely. Remember the state would have it bad if, God forbid, persons begin to sue for wrongful injury. A word to the wise is sufficient.

  11. Putting the children back at school at this time or any time in the near future is little more than a crime against humanity.

    The parents and the teachers need to revolt against such a decision, show them what an education revolution actually looks like.

    This virus is going to kill all the old folk, now they want to kill the children, the future.

  12. Luann A Hadaway says:

    Soon it will be the end of the school year. If kids go back to the classroom now, the syllabus will be forced down their throats. Most children now enter Secondary School at a younger age than say 30 years ago. Why not just leave the kids at home and reopen school in September and allow ALL the children to repeat their present grade and form. I am sure even when September comes, the focus will still be on the Virus as we have no clue when this pandemic will be over. So anyone who thinks they have all the answers, they are but compounded fools. My basic common sense tells me that we are yet to see the peak of this pandemic. It is rather reckless that our Country was not shut down. Our Health officials appear on National TV like ‘Headless Chickens and scared Cats.’ It reminds me of growing up, you and another child did something naughty but you are challenged, ‘ If you only talk, yo go see me and you..’ So you there muttering foolishness and the world knows this can never be the truth.

    Points to ponder:

    1. The Children will have a stronger base for upward mobility and not just a ‘scrap through.’
    2. Use the rest of this school year mainly for revision.
    3. It’s not like if you rush them through Secondary School, opportunities are readily available for all of them when they graduate. They are young.
    4. NO ONE in the world is functioning at full capacity at this time. It is a very stressful time.
    5. The only way to sort the deplorable conditions of MOST if not ALL of the Schools’ bathrooms, is to gut and refurbish.
    6. How can Physical distancing be ever possible when some classrooms have over 30 children?
    7. How are you going to equip all the schools with the necessary wash sinks, soap, hand towels, sanitizers and other necessities?
    8. Where will parents get the monies to fill new book lists?
    9. How would you feel to know that your kids are at risk?
    10. Can our health system handle an outbreak of 20 critical cases?
    11. Instead of bombarding the children with school work at this time. Do more practical programs: Online Cooking, Baking, Gardening, information on Covid 19, motivational videos, Keeping your rooms and homes tidy, hand washing clothes. In other words, teach them to be domesticated.
    12. The rest of the World is on Lock Down, what are we trying to prove?
    —————————————————————————————————————————
    The Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC) says it has made a policy decision to offer a modified process for CSEC and CAPE examinations.

    Further, it wants to push back the exams from the usual May/ June to July.

    But, it says it will be guided by national protocols across the region.

    Several Caribbean countries have closed schools as they seek to limit the spread of the coronavirius…

    http://jamaica-gleaner.com/article/news/20200326/cxc-announces-new-procedures-csec-and-cape-exams

  13. WebMD provides the following definition for social distancing and ways to practice it: Social distancing means keeping people far enough apart that they can’t spread coronavirus. There are a few ways to do this:
    1. Cancel events where lots of people gather, like concerts, festivals, and conferences.
    2. Work from home.
    3. Keep kids out of school
    4. Visit with family and friends by phone and computer instead of in person.
    5. Stand at least 6 feet away from people.
    6. Don’t hug or shake hands with anyone except your immediate family.
    Social distancing is highly recommended by relevant authorities here in SVG as other countries have done also. If children are sent back to school soon, EVERYONE of those social distancing practices recommended above by Web MD will be violated. So as number 3 states: KEEP KIDS OUT OF SCHOOL!

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