British Virgin Islands

Thursday, Dec 09, 2021

COVID outbreak in schools unlikely to lead to a shutdown

COVID outbreak in schools unlikely to lead to a shutdown

With most of the territory’s students now allowed to return to face-to-face learning, Education Minister Dr Natalio Wheatley said it is unlikely that a COVID-19 outbreak in any of the territory’s classrooms may lead to a shutdown of that school.

Speaking in the House of Assembly recently, the minister pointed to existing protocols in place and said they are designed to help mitigate a potential outbreak of the virus.

And as instructed by the territory’s Chief Medical Officer (CMO), if a child is found to be COVID-19 positive in a school, the first step to be taken is for the public health team to be notified for contact tracing to be done.

Dr Wheatley said the team will then gather enough information to make a determination as to whether the entire class should be sent home or whether the entire school should be shut down.

“It’s unlikely that they will shut down an entire school for a COVID-19 class,” Dr Wheatley stated.

However, he noted that the information gathered by these officials would be important in being able to determine what the next steps will be since there are a variety of factors that need to be considered when making such decisions.

In this regard, the minister explained that there was no set number of cases “where something (a particular course of action) kicks in”.

Plan surrounding health protocols to be updated

Dr Wheatley said while there is currently a plan in place for COVID-19 in schools. Nonetheless, he has asked the Chief Education Officer to consult with the CMO and the public health team to update this plan.

The minister said the updated plan will offer more details for what happens in the event of cases occurring in schools.

In a recent update to the territory, Dr Wheatley said school schedules will outline lunch and break periods in a staggered manner to ensure control of students gathering in groups.

He further pointed out that the BVI now has the capabilities to switch to online or to hybrid learning as the need may arise.


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