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Changes To Covid School Testing Policies

The policy requiring students to have a negative PCR test result after a school mid-term break will be changed to a certified negative antigen test result, and the Ministry will be rolling out at-home antigen testing for all public schools with the weekly school saliva screening testing programme placed on pause.

This was from Acting Minister of Education Tinee Furbert who was speaking during today’s press conference, where she said, “I am pleased to say that this morning I held a meeting with the Education Emergency Measures Committee [EEMC] and shared a number of Ministry updates.

Changes To Policies

“These included: a change in the Covid pre-return school testing policy; an update on the re-testing of our students; information about the at-home antigen pilot test that will be launched this weekend; and, the school saliva screening programme.

“Let me first share that about the change in the policy. Previously, it was mandatory that all staff and students in public schools produce a negative PCR test results before entering school buildings after a school mid-term break. This requirement was introduced to protect the health and safety of students and staff, and as a necessary measure to prevent and reduce bringing Covid 19 into school buildings upon re-opening.

 Certified Negative Antigen Test Result Before Entering School Buildings

“The policy will now be that all staff and students must produce a certified negative antigen test result before entering school buildings after a school break. This will ensure that results are received in sufficient time to support in-person learning.

Rolling Out At-Home Antigen Testing For All Public Schools

“Following the advice of the Ministry of Health, and engagement with school staff and parents, the Ministry will be rolling out at-home antigen testing for all public schools. While there are pros and cons that at-home antigen testing is faster, more efficient, and can be done in the privacy of one’s home, it also provides immediate results and eliminates disruptions to teaching and learning schedules in schools.

“Staff and students of selected pilot schools will start testing this Sunday evening, with all other schools starting later next week. Due to a generous donation, antigen tests are being provided free of charge. Parents of pilot schools have received information on the testing programme, and information will shared early next week with the staff and parents of all other schools.

 Saliva Screening Testing Programme Placed On Pause

“There have been several questions regarding the weekly school saliva screening testing programme. This programme has been placed on pause.

“However, the Ministry is cognizant of the rise in the number of positive Covid cases and the importance of keeping our schools safe for students and school staff.

“Therefore in addition to the antigen testing pilot that will commence this weekend, the remainder of our schools will be provided with at-home antigen tests commencing next week Monday so that all students participate in weekly antigen testing commencing on Wednesday.

“With the at home antigen test programme we ask for your honest word in providing the correct test results. It is imperative that all the instructions are followed correctly and that parents/guardians report the results before a student returns to school.

Email Your Questions

“If there are questions or concerns, please contact the Covid unit at Covid19unit@moed.bm,” the Minister added.

The changes follow after this month’s return to school saw staggered openings due to challenges with testing, which the Bermuda Union of Teachers referred to as a “massively botched January return to school.”

Please note the above is an extract from the Minister’s full comments, the aspects related to policy, you can read her full comments here, where she thanked parents, guardians, and teachers as well as made other comments.