A district health unit has been set up by the Ministry of Education to help monitor for covid19 cases among schools in education districts when they reopen on February 8, for secondary students, and April 13 for primary students.
In the guidelines for schools, the ministry said the unit, which was approved by Cabinet, would be staffed with 14 nurses and a doctor. Two nurses will be assigned to the educational districts as district medical teams and will be the liaison between schools and the ministry's other units and to share information with principals and supervisors.
Tobago will make its own arrangements, the ministry's states in the guidelines.
It said, "The Education District Health Unit will facilitate medical clearance for the entry/reentry of students to school where necessary."
The unit will also be responsible, in collaboration with the ministry's Health and Safety Unit, to ensure arrangements are in place at schools for covid19 protocols to be enforced.
"The district medical team will be the first response in the event of an emergency at school," the guidelines states.
"The crisis management team at each school must keep abreast of research and best practices as they relate to the reopening of schools and advise the School Based Management Team accordingly. Discussions should also be held with targeted stakeholders for general assistance and for dealing with covid19-related emergencies."
Health officials referred queries to the Education Ministry when asked at the covid19 briefing on Saturday about the nurses teams.
Education Minister Dr Nyan Gadsby-Dolly could not be reached for comment.
In the guidelines, the ministry said schools must follow protocols that all visitors must wear masks and sanitise, with markers for physical distancing. Visitors must provide information in case contact tracing becomes necessary. Visitors with flu-like symptoms must not be allowed to enter the compound.
A student who has flu-like symptoms must be taken to a designated quarantine area and the district medical team must be called in.
"The principal, parent and Education District Medical Team must be immediately contacted. Parents will be asked to take the student out of school and seek medical attention. In order to return to school, the parent must produce written medical clearance from the District Health Unit through the school’s principal," the guidelines state.
The guidelines include measures for temperature checks, and use of a screening notebook on members of staff and students who have two consecutive high readings of 37.5 degrees Celsius and higher.
"Staff and students with flu-like symptoms must remain at home and provide written medical clearance from the District Health Unit before returning to school," the ministry also advises. The guidelines are available on the ministry's website.