Regular hrs., in-class instruction with strict protocols for school reopening | THE DAILY HERALD

St. Dominic High (John Halley photo).


PHILIPSBURG–Thousands of the country’s students and educators will return to in-class instruction and regular school hours with COVID-19 protocols in place on Monday, August 9, when school reopens for the new academic year.

  Education Minister Rodolphe Samuel said on Wednesday that in light of the ongoing pandemic, the Ministry of Education, Culture, Youth and Sport (ECYS), in collaboration with the Ministry of Public Health, Social Development and Labor VSA has reviewed the situation regarding the local spread of COVID-19.

  According to Collective Prevention Services (CPS) COVID-19 Response Overview issued on July 26, it was noted that as of Monday, July 26, the daily caseload of COVID-19 was considered stable and trending at five to seven cases daily. Based on the genomic surveillance data recorded from July 5, to 18, the Delta variant is spreading more rapidly in St. Maarten and will likely become the predominant variant in the near term. The Delta variant is known to be more transmissible than other variants.

  From the start of the pandemic in 2020 to date, the cases within schools account for 166, and consisted of 59 teachers, 104 students and three staff members. Presently, there are zero active clusters within schools. It was based on this data that schools were advised to proceed in maintaining “Approach 4” of the St. Maarten Plan for Education Continuity Amidst the COVID-19 Pandemic, for the reopening, which entails regular school hours and in-class instruction. Schools are urged to maintain proper hygiene and sanitisation protocols and strict surveillance is to be enforced by the Ministry VSA, as well as by schools.

  In addition, it is advised that all school children ages five and above and staff continue to wear masks at all times, indoors and that spaces be well ventilated.

  In addition to adhering to the recommendations and guidelines of Approach 4, stakeholders are advised to adapt the relaxed distancing requirements for children in school, from six feet to three feet according to “The Centres for Disease Control and Prevention” thus allowing more students to be inside the classrooms.

  Teachers and other adult school staff must still adhere to the six feet guidelines, and face coverings remain mandatory for all. As the current cases continue to increase and due to the presence of the more contagious variant on the island (Delta variant), schools are strongly advised to maintain all health and safety COVID-19 protocols at all times.

  Additionally, all schools are reminded to report any cases of COVID-19 or suspected cases to Collective Prevention Services (CPS) so that the necessary steps and measures can be taken to reduce the further spread of COVID-19. As many schools have hired new teachers for the upcoming academic year, Samuel urges institutions to ensure that all teachers are trained and aware of the safety plans of the respective schools.

 He said all schools will be inspected prior to the opening of the new academic year, and will receive the relevant correspondence from the Division of Inspection as to the date and time of inspections.

  “As we begin the 2021-2022 academic year, permit me to bid all school boards, the Division Public Education, and personnel within their schools, students and parents a most successful year ahead,” Samuel said.

Source: The Daily Herald