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National Primary Schools Prinicipals’ Association president Lance Mottley

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National Primary Schools Principals’ Association (NAPSPA) head Lance Motley is advising parents to keep their children at home once a member of the household is ill.

His call came on Sunday following the recent detection of a Standard 5 Maraval RC school pupil who contracted COVID-19 from a relative unknowingly and attended school for three days before it was detected.

The general advice for citizens is to stay home if ill and seek medical attention to rule out the possibility of COVID-19 but Mottley said yesterday it needs to be expanded.

“As part of our protocols, the Ministry of Education would have been insisting to parents through schools that if the child is displaying some flu-like symptoms it is the onus, the responsibility of the parents to keep that child home. Now we want to add something to that because clearly, the child did not display any symptoms at all…so we want to go a step forward and say if anyone in the home is displaying flu-like symptoms, keep the child home,” Mottley said in a telephone interview.

“My understanding is the school (Maraval RC) has thermal testing going on, sanitisation at the entrance, the children are required to wear masks…all schools are asked to do that. Notwithstanding that, they were not able to pick up whether the child was symptomatic of not.”

COVID cases 139, 141 and 142 are currently at the Caura Hospital receiving treatment. However, five primary contacts of case 142, a 63-year-old Maraval woman, tested positive for the virus. The country’s five latest cases, three of them children, came from that woman’s household. Chief Medical Officer Dr Roshan Parasram said the child in the Maraval RC SEA class possibly exposed 76 other pupils and 12 school officials to the virus.

Arising out of this, he said, over 200 secondary contacts, which include the other students, their parents, siblings and social contacts, were also being probed.

The school’s students and teachers, who were out for the August 20 SEA exam preparations, are now in self-quarantine as a result of the incident, which now raises questions about if the students will be able to adequately prepare for the SEA exam.

“It still hangs in the balance,” Mottley said, noted he was unsure about the school’s next step and that the Ministry of Education would have to provide guidance on the matter.

He noted that all eyes will now be trained on the Ministry of Health’s investigation into the source of and spread of the infection to cases 139, 141 and 142, which have been labelled as locally transmitted and are pending further “epidemiological investigation.”

However, he encouraged parents to “continue to send your children out until further advice from the Ministry of Health.”

“This is only one case, so far, that we know about and we are hoping that this is only in this particular instance and it is not far and it’s not wide-spread,” Mottley said.

He called on the Ministry of Education to “mount a public education campaign to sensitise our parents on what is expected of them…as it relates to sending their children to school and observing the COVID-19 protocols.”