Vistabella Presbyterian Primary School. (Image: KRISTIAN DE SILVA)

RADHICA DE SILVA
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Over 50 pupils under self-quarantine from the Vistabella Presbyterian Primary School are in limbo as to whether they will be allowed to write the Secondary Entrance Assessment exams.

The children were swabbed and tested for COVID-19 on August 11, after a classmate tested positive, but are yet to receive their results some eight days later.

Their test results were supposed to have been ready since last Friday. Up to Tuesday morning, there was no feedback from the authorities.

Five parents spoke to Guardian Media under anonymity and said they were frustrated with the lack of information.

A Marabella parent said he stopped his child from attending classes on July 28 after hearing that another pupil from a school in North Trinidad had tested positive.

“I didn’t want to take chances with my son so I decided we will stop him from attending classes and we will do his revision at home. He went for the first week after classes resumed and two days in the second week, which was some time at the end of July,” the parent said.

He explained that the day after elections, an official from the County Medical Officer of Health advised him that a pupil from the SEA class had tested positive and his son needed testing.

The entire family went under self-quarantine at home.

The father said even though more than 14 days had passed since his last school attendance, the Ministry of Health insisted that testing was necessary, so he decided to follow through with the protocols.

“They told us because the children were writing SEA, they will fast track the results, and we should get it by Friday or latest Monday, but no one has received any feedback, and no one is placing any urgency on the matter. The children are in a dilemma now. Tomorrow is Wednesday one day before the exam and they don’t know what is happening with them. That is our situation right now,” he said.

Another parent said she was very concerned about the psychological impact the issue was having on her child.

“It is very frustrating for us. The children were supposed to write the exams in April. Now we are not even sure if they will write it on Thursday,” she said.

She added, ” We went to the Pleasantville Community Centre to get the test. We don’t know if they are positive or negative. Everything is up in the air. I would like the Minister to hurry up with the test results,” she said.

A parent from San Fernando said she wanted all the pupils awaiting COVID 19 test results to get the SEA exams on another day.

“What happens if someone tests positive? Will they be denied an opportunity to go to secondary school or will they have to write the exams next year?” she asked.

The parents said they were upset with the way that the SEA exam was handled.

“I am very displeased. SEA was supposed to be in April. They should have a policy in place to speed up lab tests so parents would get results in time. So you know many SEA children were affected yet you did not beef up the staffing at the lab?” she asked.

Contacted for comment, Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh said he will investigate the matter.