Tue | Jul 7, 2020

Health reps voice concerns over schools’ cleaning protocols

Published:Monday | June 8, 2020 | 12:07 AMChristopher Thomas/ Gleaner Writer
Maintenance staff at Kingston Technical High School cleaning the floors to prepare for the reopening of school. Health officials in western Jamaica have voiced concerns about the prepardeness of the schools in their region as they reopen today, Monday, Jun
Maintenance staff at Kingston Technical High School cleaning the floors to prepare for the reopening of school. Health officials in western Jamaica have voiced concerns about the prepardeness of the schools in their region as they reopen today, Monday, June 8.

WESTERN BUREAU:

Two representatives of western Jamaica’s health authorities are voicing cautious optimism that the region’s schools will have all the necessary cleaning and sanitising protocols in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19, in time for the country’s planned reopening of schools today.

Dr Marcia Johnson-Campbell, the chief medical officer of health for St James, and Steve Morris, the chief public health inspector for Westmoreland, both stated that they will have to wait till today to determine whether schools in their respective parishes have instituted the necessary control measures for COVID-19, which has recorded 591 infections and 10 deaths locally.

Speaking to the level of readiness in St James, Johnson-Campbell stated that based on previous meetings held between the Ministry of Health and school principals in the parish, there should at least be awareness of what the guidelines involve.

“At this point, the Ministry of Health has been having meetings with the Ministry of Education and with principals at different levels, so we know that they know what they are supposed to do. But we won’t know, exactly, whether or not the schools are able to put in all the measures until they actually open,” said Johnson-Campbell.

“We’re not going beforehand to see whether they are putting in the measures or not. But we’re confident that the people, in general, have a full understanding of what is required, and that they’re making every effort to do what needs to be done,” she added.

Meanwhile, Morris said that up to last Friday, the Westmoreland Health Department’s field officers were checking various schools to determine their level of readiness. This was seen as follow-up action to previous virtual meetings which were held with the schools.

NOT READY

“We had done some initial checks at the schools and they weren’t ready, but they said to give them until today (Friday), so we’re out there revisiting them. Some of them seem to be putting in the things that are required,” said Morris.

“We actually had several online meetings with the schools from before, telling them what they need to put in regarding the guidelines. Individual schools have their challenges, but overall, most of the things that are required should be put in place soon,” Morris continued.

Efforts to get comments from the health authorities in Hanover and Trelawny were unsuccessful. However, at the William Knibb Memorial High School in Trelawny, principal Linvern Wright said that there has been training on the protocols for sanitising.

“We were doing our last bit of training on Tuesday, and we’re now dealing with the ancillary staff and vendors, to train them on protocols for cleaning and social distancing, which we already did with other categories of staff,” said Wright.

Secondary schools across the island have sought to clean and sanitise their classrooms and incorporate markings to encourage social distancing, ahead of their planned refresher sessions for CXC examinations. These preparatory sittings will begin on Monday and continue until July 3.