Minister of Education Anthony Garcia


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As fears of the novel coronavirus (COVID19) grow across the world, the Education Ministry says school principals have been instructed to hold daily assemblies to educate students on preventative measures against the virus.

In response to questions sent by Guardian Media yesterday, Education Anthony Garcia said a circular memo was issued to all schools on preventative measures to be followed if the virus reaches T&T.

“Principals are asked to hold daily assemblies advising the school population to regularly wash hands and refrain from contact with persons who show signs of the flu,” he said.

He said parents have also been asked not to send their children to school if they are ill.

“The Minister of Health has repeatedly advised the population that there is no need to panic. Our country is adequately prepared for this virus if or when it shows up,” Garcia said.

In countries where there is currently a COVID-19 outbreak, including Italy and the US state of New York, schools have been shut down to prevent the spread of the virus.

As of 3 pm yesterday, there were 93,726 confirmed cases and 3,246 deaths worldwide.

In an address on March 2, World Health Organisation (WHO’s) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyeus said there is no one-size-fits-all approach for dealing with the virus. He said different countries have different scenarios and the virus had not yet reached over 130 countries in the world.

Yesterday, when asked about a contingency for the education sector in the event the virus is detected here and whether schools would be shut down, as has been done internationally, Garcia said, “It is premature to talk about shutting down schools. The Ministry of Health will advise depending on the severity of the situation. We have been operating on the basis of a one government approach and as a result, several ministries will combine to deal with the problem.”

However, he said he was satisfied that schools have been properly sensitised.