Education ministry launches nat'l clean-up campaign to tackle chik-V
Jodi-Ann Gilpin, Gleaner Writer
Noting that six persons have so far died from suspected chikungunya complications in schools in the Corporate Area and Clarendon, the Ministry of Education says it will be working to ensure that its clean-up campaign, slated to go on until October 22, will assist in lessening the spread of the virus among persons in the education sector.
The ministry confirmed yesterday that in addition to three recent cases at schools in the Corporate Area, two teachers and a student of the Vere Technical High School in Clarendon have died since Wednesday from suspected complications related to the virus.
Education Minister Ronald Thwaites, who was addressing a press conference at his Heroes Circle offices in Kingston, where the clean-up activities planned for 274 schools was launched, said it would take a collaborative effort to curb the impact of the virus.
He also expressed gratitude to teachers who went beyond the call of duty in ensuring that teaching time was not severely impacted.
"We are not pathologists, but those are the reports we have so far. Our last survey a week ago showed the rate of staff and students going (absent) as high as 30 per cent in one school. This seems to be trending down, noticeably, in parishes which had the highest level of absence," he said.
"The ministry is grateful to the boards, principals and staff of schools, who have gone the extra mile to keep the doors of the institutions open, while taking the best care of the students placed in their charge," the minister said.
He added: "This is not only to get rid of mosquitoes but we want to build a culture of wellness and cleanliness among our school communities.
"This will be a flash in the pan if this clean-up is not maintained and so we urge parents and other stakeholders to assist in sustaining this project."
Doran Dixon, president of the Jamaica Teachers' Association, also said school attendance has been impacted, and added that he hopes that clean-up activities will be maintained.
"There was a period when incidents peaked - maybe a week or so ago - and reports are still coming in. School administrators have made a significant efforts to keep the school doors open and we continue to encourage that going forward, and remain cautious," Dixon said.
"Absenteeism is still prevalent, but I continue to commend our teachers who have been displaying stalwart work in keeping things under control."