Schools in St. Vincent and the Grenadines could reopen before the end of this month, Minister of Health, Senator Luke Browne told a press conference in Kingstown on Thursday.
School closed one week ahead of the Easter break and are yet to reopen as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Speaking at the press conference, Browne said that the Ministry of Education had made a presentation to Cabinet on Wednesday about the reopening of schools “and the matter is being finalised”.
Responding to questions, Browne said the final decision on the reopening of schools will be made” on the recommendation of the Ministry of Education — the absolute recommendation.
“There was a discussion that took us in the direction of getting that recommendation. And I think that what is possible to be said at this moment is that we’re looking at a return to school that, first of all, takes into consideration students who are doing external examinations.”
This relates to students who are in Form 5 and Grade 6.
“So they’re hoping to start with the return of these students, and possibly, before the end of the month, and then they will roll out a full reopening programme shortly thereafter,” Browne said.
The health minister continued:
“But I should make a point as well as many of you may already know, that classes are still going on right now through the electronic mechanisms that have been established by the Ministry of Education. But stay tuned and I’m sure that more information on this particular question will come to light in the not too distant future.
At the same press conference, Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Roger Duncan, responded to a question about what conditions the Ministry of Health would deem safe for the reopening of schools.
We are very reluctant to deal in absolutes when it comes to this. So that if you do one, two, three, four, there is absolute safety within schools. So what we have done is we’ve outlined a series of mitigating actions that we have advised the ministry education to take. Actions related to sanitization, access to hand washing, physical distancing on the school compound and so forth.”
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Education, this week, issued a memo to heads of education institutions saying that in preparation for the eventual reopening of school, they are to ensure that school facilities are properly cleaned.
“This cleaning needs to commence on Thursday May 7, 2020,” the memo said.
“The Ministry of Education continues to be guided by the Ministry of Health, Wellness and the Environment on a suitable time for the reopening of schools and protocols necessary to facilitate this eventuality.”