THA issues covid19 management plan for schools

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Signal Hill Secondary students get their temperature checked by security at the school compound. FILE PHOTO –

The THA Division of Health, Wellness and Social Protection has stipulated that students who exhibit flu-like symptoms must be isolated immediately and contact made with the health unit and the parent/guardian.

It said students who are primary contacts of a household must inform the principal to ensure self-quarantine directions are given.

The division said an isolation room must be identified and sanitised after each sick person leaves. It added there must be safe distancing at all times.

A list of students with special needs or serious underlying conditions must be developed, the division said.

The division’s stipulations were contained in its infectious disease covid19 management plan, which was released on Tuesday. Copies of the plan have also been dispatched to schools across the island.

It followed concerns about the rising number of covid19 cases among students and teachers at schools in Tobago.

Last week, the Division of Education, Research and Technology released a graph, which showed that 19 students and three teachers had contracted covid19 since the full reopening of schools on April 20.

Education house officer Dr Dane Joseph told Newsday, the division had planned to issue daily updates, beginning from Monday. But this has not materialised.

In its management plan, the division said members of staff exhibiting flu-like symptoms must remain at home. It said an isolation room must also be identified.

“This area must be sanitised after each sick person departs and there must be safe distancing of six feet within at all times.”

The division also advised that schools develop a list of members of staff with special needs or serious underlying conditions.

“This must remain confidential.”

Regarding entry into school premises, the division said there must be at least two hand washing stations per school.

Where there are more multiple sinks in one area, they must be distanced six feet apart, it said.

The division said thermal scanning must be conducted before entry and relevant records taken.

“If the first temperature reading is above 37.5 degrees Celsius/99.5 degrees Fahrenheit, the student must be directed to a cool area and a second check must be conducted after five minutes.”

The division said appropriate signage must be developed and posted to communicate the information to all students.

Signage, it said, must be conspicuously displayed to indicate: No Mask, No Entry, Wash Hands Before Entry and Thermal Scanning Before Entry.

Among other measures, the division recommended that distance markers be placed on the floor in common areas such as the canteen and library.

It said school assemblies should be conducted over the public address system with students in classrooms supervised by a form/class teacher.

The division said students must maintain physical distancing at the end of classes. Protocols for this must be developed by the principals.

Last week, Health Minister Terrance Deyalsingh revealed that 288 covid19 cases were recorded among students and teaching staff across the country’s 243 schools between April 25 and 29.

Deyalsingh said the figures were provided by the Ministry of Education.

He promised to share more statistics from schools as they become available.

Education Minister Dr Nyan Gadsby-Dolly said any decision to reimplement restrictions to prevent the spread of the virus would be done after holistic consideration of its effects.