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COVID response team set up as reopening schools named

Published:Monday | November 2, 2020 | 12:14 AM
Acting Permanent Secretary Dr Grace McLean.
Acting Permanent Secretary Dr Grace McLean.

The Ministry of Health and Wellness has been charged with inspecting the 17 schools slated to reopen under a two-week pilot this month and installing a rapid-response team to cauterise spread if coronavirus cases break out among students, faculty, and other staff.

The request was made by acting Permanent Secretary Dr Grace McLean last Friday as the Government pushes ahead with a limited resumption of face-to-face classes as pushback from parents and teachers subsides amid COVID-19 fatigue.

The 17 schools, with around 5,800 students, span nine parishes. They are Tranquility Primary and Infant and Moore Town Primary and Junior High in Portland; Yallahs High in St Thomas; Steer Town Primary and Junior High in St Ann; Troy High and Albert Town High in Trelawny; Somerton All-Age and Infant and Chatsworth Primary and Infant in St James; Chantilly Primary in Westmoreland; Mile Gully Primary in Manchester; Bethlehem All Age and Infant and Ballards Valley Primary in St Elizabeth; and Morgans Forest Primary and Infant, Garlogie Primary and Junior High, Alston High, and Kemps Hill High in Clarendon.

Geoinformatics and demographic data, including a range of indices such as water supply, transportation distance, and enrolment density, informed the selection of schools.

Education Minister Fayval Williams revealed last week that 73 schools, with an aggregate population of 58,000 students, met the threshold for reopening, but the conservative resumption indicates the tightrope the Holness administration is treading as concerns linger about infection control among children.

As at Saturday, October 31, Jamaica had recorded 9,131 coronavirus infections and 209 deaths.