Fri | Dec 3, 2021

Full Statement: NPTAJ disappointed with plans for Champs to be held in May

Published:Saturday | April 17, 2021 | 10:09 AM

The National Parent-Teacher Association of Jamaica (NPTAJ) says it is disappointed that approval has been given for the May staging of ISSA/GraceKennedy Boys and Girls' Athletics Championships.

The Government gave approval yesterday for the event to be held between May 11 and 15.

Champs was initially set for March 23-27 but a spike in COVID-19 cases saw a tightening of movement across the island by the Government, pushing back the date provisionally for April.

But further tightening of curfews then forced ISSA to consider rescheduling the five-day event once more.

In a statement to The Gleaner, NPTAJ stated though it understands the economic value to be gained, it cannot in good conscience risk children’s and families’ lives for money.

See full statement:

We note with disappointment and utter shock that the authorities have given the go ahead for ISSA to stage Champs 2021.

More so that ISSA has proceeded to stage this event in the midst of a pandemic, with alarming positivity and death rates, when face-to-face school is still being prohibited given the rise in positive cases in recent weeks and after 134 schools would have reported positive cases, and children being the last category listed to receive the COVID-19 vaccinations, which is not expected to be administered to this category before the latter part of 2021 based on current trends.

The risk of exposure from student-to-student, student-to-coach and coach-to-student, given that only some 135,000 Jamaican adults out of a population of 2.7 million have so far received their first dose of vaccinations: with the second dose expected to be received in June 2021, that small percentage is still not fully protected against COVID-19.

What are the protocols for the safety of participants in this event? The NPTAJ maintains its stance that we should allow for the vaccination programme to be fully rolled out to include our students, particularly high school students and even more critically our student athletes who still have to go home to their parents and grandparents and other family members, particularly those with comorbidities, thereby increasing their risk of exposure to COVID-19.

The three recent weekend lockdowns have only seen a slight decrease in the number of positive cases, and in our estimation is not sufficient to make us satisfied of the safety of all who will participate in this event.

Whilst we understand the economic value to be gained, we cannot in good conscience risk our children’s and families’ lives for money.

The NPTAJ holds the government, organisers and sponsors responsible for any incidence of COVID-19 relating to Champs and any other planned sporting events and cautions our parents/guardians to carefully consider the associated risks and make the proper decisions concerning our children. 

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