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Government: Public Schools Remain Open

“While school activity has been restricted public schools remain open,” the Department of Education said this afternoon, adding that they have put preventative measures in place including stepped up cleaning and disinfecting, suspension of field trips, sporting events and assemblies, encouraging sick staff and students to stay at home, social distancing and more.

A Government spokesperson said, “The Department of Education can confirm that public schools will remain open. While school activity has been restricted public schools remain open.

“In this rapidly evolving situation, we are taking preventative and protective measures, working closely with the Department of Health, reviewing policies and guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and listening carefully to our school communities.

“Currently, there are no confirmed cases in Bermuda and our schools are in the preparation and preventative phase. Any decision to close a school or to dismiss specific classes will be taken after reviewing several factors, including the impact on community spread of COVID-19, impact on schools and impact on families.

“It should be noted that the Department of Education has not been made aware of any specific situation related to the Covid-19 being present in schools.

“However, we will continue to receive daily reports from The Ministry of Health and our Principals. Should there be a confirmed case in any of our schools – of students, staff, parents, or temporary visitor – families will be notified and decisions made according to CDC guidelines, following a risk assessment in coordination with the Department of Health.

“We have put in place preventative measures in all of our schools, including:

  • Daily monitoring of students and staff – for absenteeism and illness
  • Stepped up cleaning and disinfecting of common areas [three times a day]
  • Isolation and removal from school premises of any one found to be ill with flu like symptoms
  • Suspension of field trips and sporting events until further notice
  • Suspension of assemblies
  • Encouraging sick staff and students to stay at home
  • Asking students and staff to practice social distancing
  • Schools are requiring students and staff to wash their hands before entering classrooms, particularly for classes involving contact with equipment that other students will be using during the day
  • Cancelled all overseas school trips
  • Suspended school PTA/PTSA meetings
  • Parents and staff asked to inform Department of Health and school leaders if they have been in contact with anyone who have recently been in a high risk country.
  • Flu like illnesses on school grounds are to be reported to the Department of Health schools coordinator
  • Establishing communication policies and infrastructure for rapid dissemination of information

“We have shared the latest Ministry of Health guidance [attached] to our school leaders and shall continue to keep our stakeholders informed.

“To reiterate, there are currently no confirmed Covid -19 cases in Bermuda. Public schools are currently in the preparation and preventative phase working in tandem with the Ministry of Health. Disinfecting and cleaning of schools has been increased, and the decision to keep schools open is based on science.

“The Center for Disease Control and Prevention has published recommendations on school closure based on available science, reports from other countries and consultation with school health experts.

“Based on the available modeling data indicate that early, short to medium closures do not impact the epi curve of COVID-19 or available health care measures [e.g., hospitalizations]. There may be some impact of much longer closures [8 weeks, 20 weeks] further into community spread, but that modelling also shows that other mitigation efforts [e.g., handwashing, home isolation] have more impact on both spread of disease and health care measures. In other countries, those places who closed school [e.g., Hong Kong] have not had more success in reducing spread than those that did not [e.g., Singapore].” Center for Disease Control and Prevention

“The decision to close a school will only be taken when specific conditions are identified by health professionals. The safety and security of our children and our community are our main focus and we are diligently working and monitoring the situation in the interest of Bermuda.”

The full Department of Health School Guidance Fact Sheet follows below [PDF here]

The full CDC Recommendation follow below [PDF here]