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CMO Roshan Parasram

KEVON FELMINE
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Only three or four individuals will be allowed in a classroom for this year’s sittings of the Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examinations (CAPE) and the Caribbean Secondary Examination Certificate (CSEC) due to COVID-19 restrictions.At yesterday’s Ministry of Health COVID-19 update, Chief Medical Officer Dr Roshan Parasram said this was one of the protocols they were looking at implementing as the ministry continues to work with the Ministry of Education to prevent any spread of the virus during examinations, which are scheduled to begin on July 13.

“It is more difficult for children to social distance than an adult in most instances. In a classroom setting, we are speaking specifically about the exams going ahead in July. The Ministry of Health will be working directly with the Ministry of Education to work out protocols to ensure that there is social distance,” Parasram said.

“For instance, in one classroom, there maybe three or four individuals in the entire classroom. Of course, when school opens, that cannot be the case. We are looking at 20-30 persons in a small classroom, so social distance is extremely difficult in that sort of setting.

“We have seen in other countries around the world, exams being conducted on a playfield. I saw a picture where South Korea actually used a large playfield to conduct their examination, which is open-air and they have a lot of social distance occurring in there. We are using classrooms but we are trying to have three or four persons in those settings so that the social distance can be adhered to.” Parasram said.Handwashing, sanitisation of the surfaces before and after each examination and every time a new individual comes into a space will be done. Most important was that anyone who is ill will not be allowed into the examination area.The Ministry of Education is also expected to announce its plans for primary school pupils to write the Secondary Entrance Assessment later this week.Also asked about supermarkets returning to pre-COVID-19 operating hours yesterday, Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh said that will be addressed in the next cycle of Government’s phased reopening of the economy.

Parasram said guidelines for the operation of religious facilities were also already drafted. Once signed by Deyalsingh, the guidelines will be sent to the Inter-Religious Organisations and available on the ministry’s Facebook page ahead of Thursday’s go-ahead.