With preparations underway for the reopening of schools, all staff in government schools and the Department of Education Services(DES) will be required to undergo to COVID-19 testing as an added precautionary measure.
This is just one of a series of safety measures being implemented for the start of the new school year.
School staff and students will also be required to wear masks while inside school buildings.
These are among the actions being taken as the DES says it’s ensuring that schools are in a state of readiness for the return of students amidst the pandemic.
Hon. Minister for Education, Juliana O’Connor-Connolly and senior officials from the Ministry of Education (MEYSAL) and DES have been touring government school facilities in Grand Cayman and Cayman Brac conducting onsite visits to ensure compliance with current Public Health protocols and that guidance measures were being adhered to.
During the tours, classrooms, corridors and common areas were inspected for overall cleanliness, social distancing markers, signage, and adequate handwashing and sanitisation facilities.
The team also inspected specific areas that have been identified as supplementary classroom and storage space to maintain appropriate social distancing.
Minister O’Connor-Connolly has expressed her overall satisfaction with the schools’ plans and preparations, both completed and in progress.
“I recognise that we have not yet achieved a complete state of readiness, still, I am confident that DES will continue to work closely with our schools to ensure that all the necessary measures are put in place before students return,” she said.
Meanwhile, in addition to MEYSAL’s general guidance for the reopening of all schools, the DES reports that it is supporting government schools with preparing their individual plans which are being distributed to parents and guardians.
Parents urged to remain in contact with school leaders, especially if they have questions in relation to this guidance and any other school-related concerns.
Acting Director of Education Services, Tammy Banks-DaCosta, said: “DES will continue to strive towards supporting our schools who have been working tirelessly and assiduously during these challenging times. We aim to provide the necessary resources as we adapt to all the rolling and updated measures as per the current advice and protocols set by health officials.”
Such measures include the requirement that students and school staff wear masks while inside school buildings.
Chief Medical Officer Dr John Lee has advised that “the wearing of masks for everyone indoors is necessary unless they are sitting silently.”
He explained that there is a higher chance of airborne transmission of the COVID-19 virus while students are talking, especially in enclosed spaces such as classrooms.
MEYSAL and the DES have given an assurance that for government schools, students and their parents and guardians can expect compliance with current Public Health Level 2 Suppression protocols.
Those include requiring students to maintain a distance of 3 feet apart in a classroom setting and to eat their lunches at their classroom desks.
Regular movement on school premises requires a social distance of 6 feet.
The school-specific guidance covers matters such as daily operations, hygiene practices and provisions, wellness, transportation (including school bus measures) and after school activities.