First Wave Movement head Umar Abdullah is locked out by a security officer, after he tried gaining access to the Pleasantville Secondary School yesterday.

Sascha Wilson

Head of the First Wave Movement Umar Abdullah is claiming that proper protocol was not followed at the Pleasantville Secondary School, where there were two cases of COVID-19 reported.

Abdullah visited the school yesterday seeking an audience with the principal regarding the issue, but he was ordered off the compound by security officers, who then closed the gate.

Guardian Media had reported earlier this week that a teacher and a cleaner at the school had tested positive. However, in an email sent to staff, a copy of which was obtained by Guardian Media, the principal said information came from the MTS building supervisor to the administration confirming that two MTS maintenance workers tested positive. Their last day on the school’s compound was last Friday.

The principal said, “The District Health Nurse, Mr Dillon and the Schools’ Supervisor, Ms Ramoutar, were contacted this morning and both indicated that because the two-day window prior to these individuals doing the actual COVID test November 16, 2021) has long passed, in addition to the 72 hours after their last day at work, then there is no need to conduct contact tracing.”

However, she said that they recommended the continuation of daily sanitising and encouraging all persons on the compound to continue to observe all MoH/MPE health and safety protocols.

But Abdullah yesterday questioned why the Ministry of Health did not inform the school that the workers, who would have interacted with staff, students and the public, had tested positive.

He added that the matter only came to light after an online story was carried by Guardian Media.

“We raised this issue at the very beginning because when the Minister of Education would have indicated that both the vaccinated and the unvaxxed would have to coexist in the schools, we automatically thought that all the protocols would be put in place to treat with matters like these when it does occur and the right procedures and the protocols would take place as a result, because we know you were placing students in a very risky situation.”

Describing as reckless the manner in which the matter was handled, Abdullah questioned why it was shrouded in secrecy.

“I’m asking the question, is this the same thing going on in all the schools in T&T?”

He called for more transparency in the manner in which Government is treating the country regarding the pandemic and information.

An official from the Ministry of Education, who did not want to be identified, yesterday denied there was a breach of protocols or any attempt to cover up the matter. Noting the ministry has set up a health unit to monitor COVID-19 cases within schools, he said they would have ensured all procedures and protocols were followed.

Regarding Abdullah being put off the compound, the official said the principal was engaged in exams and had no meeting scheduled with him.

Meanwhile, Education Minister Dr Nyan Gadsby-Dolly said the report of the Education District Health Unit indicates that the usual protocols were observed at the school when the situation arose.