Minister: District Health Unit managing covid19 cases in schools

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Education Minister Dr Nyan Gadsby-Dolly. –

EUCATION Minister Dr Nyan Gadsby-Dolly says the Education District Health Unit (EDHU) is managing incidences of covid19 within schools.

In a WhatsApp statement to Newsday on Thursday, she said the unit – set up in January – collaborates with the County Medical Officer of Health (CMOH) to intervene when cases arise in schools.

Two weeks ago, secondary schools reopened for forms 4-6 students for both vaccinated and unvaccinated students.

“Due to the fact that we are in the midst of a global pandemic, it is anticipated that covid19 cases would arise in all sectors of society. This mirrors the global circumstance, and it was the experience of schools during the February-July 2021 period, when Forms 4-6 students were in physical attendance,” Gadsby-Dolly said.

“This is why the EDHU was set up…to manage these situations in collaboration with the CMOH of each district.”

She said guidelines for the reopening of schools, sent to all principals before schools reopened, contain clear instructions regarding entry and safety protocols, and the procedure for handling covid19-related matters through the district nurses to the medical house officer so that cases and primary contacts can be properly managed.

“These procedures will be reiterated to all schools via circular memorandum this week,” she said.

“Where sanitisation of premises is deemed necessary by the EDHU and the CMOH, this is done. The circumstances surrounding each case are different, and in some cases, this would require school closure, typically for one day after which physical class can resume.

“The National Maintenance Training and Security Company (MTS) provides these emergency services to most schools, along with daily janitorial services adjusted according to Ministry of Health-approved standard operating procedures.”

Gadsby-Dolly said when classes need to be halted to facilitate sanitisation, classes would switch to online and when school resumes, those required to quarantine must do so until they are cleared for readmittance.

The contact tracing is done, Gadsby-Dolly said, and quarantine orders issued and lifted by the MOH officials. This careful management of covid19 cases at schools will continue to be a critical feature of physical schooling during the time of the pandemic.

She said the ministry continues to advocate for vaccination for all school personnel and reminded the public to take personal responsibility for their safety.

Technical Director of Epidemiology Dr Avery Hinds at the Ministry of Health said for Port of Spain and environs, there have been five confirmed cases. In St George East, 16 cases; Northeast, 12 cases; Caroni, three cases; St Patrick, seven cases; Victoria, five cases; and Southeast, seven cases, totalling 55 cases reported up to November 5.

He was speaking during the ministry’s public covid19 briefing.

Since reopening, schools including Iere High in Siparia, Bishop Anstey and Trinity College East in Trincity and the Signal Hill Secondary and Bishops High School, both in Tobago, have reported covid19 cases among students and teachers.