The Minister of Education Diallo Rabain met with the Education Emergency Measures Committee [EEMC] to “address the recent rise in positive Covid-19 cases within the community.”
A Government spokesperson said, “Following yesterday’s meeting, the EEMC agreed that public schools will remain open however, further protocols will be implemented to keep our educators, parents, and students safe.”
Minister Rabain said, “In response to the recent reports of positive COVID-19 cases within our community, the EEMC met to discuss changes to our COVID-19 protocols that will further ensure the safety and health of our schools.”
“We were joined by the Chief Medical Officer [CMO] who, in light of increased cases, provided a detailed overview of where we are as a country and answered questions arising from the EEMC.”
“The CMO clarified the difference between the quarantining and testing of close contacts versus casual contact [whole school] testing and highlighted, as a matter of critical importance, the steps that must be taken by the Department of Health [DOH] when a student tests positive to ensure the safety and health of the school the student attends,” a spokesperson added.
Minister Rabain added, “The safety and health of our schools, educators, and students are of paramount importance to all of us and we understand that positive cases can profoundly affect all of us. We want to reassure you that the EEMC has a plan to address timely notification and rapid testing and are pleased to share the revised system agreed on:
- The Department of Health [DOH] notifies the Department of Education [DOE] of potential exposure.
- The COVID-19 Communication strategy is launched to inform [in this order]:
- The Staff and Parents
- The EEMC Members
- All stakeholders within the BPSS
- The General Public
- Immediately, the bubble that any positive student is a part of, their close contacts, are ordered to quarantine and get tested via the nasal-pharayneal or oral swab.
- The rest of the students & staff at the school [casual contacts] will be tested using the Saliva Testing method at school within a day of the initial notification.
- The school’s Risk Assessment is carried out, and the result of the Risk Assessment will determine if any additional steps are needed.
Minister Rabain concluded, “Our goal is to ensure the safety and health of our schools, educators, and students, and after conferring with the CMO, DOH, and their team, it was agreed that this proactive approach is best.”
“We are all in this together, and I am confident that we will emerge from this intact. I encourage you to continue to be safe, get tested regularly, get immunised, and strictly adhere to the Government’s safety measures to contain this latest community outbreak and reduce the transmission of COVID-19.”
The representatives of the EEMC 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, and Members of the Legislature.