CHIEF Medical Officer (CMO) Dr Roshan Parasram on Monday said, students will not be required to wear masks when schools reopen. He made the statement after the Prime Minister said Government remained committed to reopening schools on September 1.
At a news conference at the Diplomatic Centre in St Ann's, Parasram said, "Our advice is based on the guidelines and we do not recommend at this point for the students, at least, to be wearing masks or face shields during normal (school) hours."
He said the Health and Education Ministries have held meetings regarding the reopening of schools during the covid19 pandemic, and guidelines from the World Health Organization, UN Children's Fund and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for the reopening of schools have been provided to the Education Ministry.
Parasram said the Health Ministry will provide a final document to the Education Ministry on Wednesday. On whether teachers will need to wear masks or face shields, he said, "Teachers, possibly, based on the level of interaction." Citing the examples of a physical education teacher to a teacher in a classroom, Parasram said, "There are different categories of teachers."
He also said the covid19 guidelines for schools' reopening with also deal with issues such as age stratification and high risk individuals.
Dr Rowley said, "There are a number of schools which are now thinking about making decisions as to the reopening of schools."
He said some countries reopened their schools "and had to adjust by going back." Reiterating that Government is committed to a September restart for schools, Rowley said if a different situation arises which prevents this from happening, adjustments would be made.
In deciding when and how to reopen schools, Rowley explained that governments around the world have a common issue to address. "The contact between youngsters and the home becomes a risk which we do not now have."
In a statement announcing the reopening of school, the Education Ministry said the first term runs from September 1 to December 11. After the Christmas break, classes resume on January 4 and end for the Easter break on March 26, 2021. The last term for the academic year will begin on April 21 and end on July 2.
TTUTA president Antonia De Freitas and National Primary Schools Principals Association president Lance Mottley said they were awaiting the release of the covid19 guidelines.
De Freitas said sanitisation was an issue TTUTA raised. She also said it may not be practical for teachers and students who suffer from medical conditions such as asthma. Mottley was heartened to learn the guidelines would be issued on Wednesday. He recalled the association submtitted proposals for reopening to the Education Ministry. Mottley did not believe the wearing of masks or face shields by students during school hours was healthy or practical.