Testing In Schools Important In Keeping COVID-19 Numbers Down – CMO

Esther Durand, Journalist
January 14, 2022 8:16 am AST
Esther Durand, Journalist | January 14, 2022 8:16 am AST
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(Photo Credit: Esther Durand/BVI Platinum News)
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(Photo Credit: Esther Durand/BVI Platinum News)

Ag. Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Ronald Georges said conducting a testing regime in schools is critical in keeping the COVID-19 numbers down.

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During an online forum with stakeholders on Thursday, January 13, he said that online school is challenging for everyone, but measures must be put in place for the safety of faculty and students.

“Countries around the world are dealing with it in different ways. So for example, in different schools in the UK and the US, you may see testing regimens, weekly rapid testing, you may see twice-weekly rapid testing, thrice-weekly rapid testing.”

He continued: “These all have cost implications and there are different strategies where one day they may test the entire population repeatedly or they may do more opportunistic testing. But, essentially, putting a testing regime in place in schools is quite important in reducing the risks of infections in schools and allowing schools to open safely.”

Dr. Georges said with the BVI now in the throes of an Omicron outbreak, “Once things do settle down I know the Ministry of Education does have plans to reopen schools as quickly as they can, and we also do have plans to review various strategies that we can use to implement a testing regime in schools to ensure that we can safely reopen schools in a face to face manner.”

When Deputy Premier and Minister for Education, Hon. Natalio Wheatley last spoke to BVI Platinum News on the matter, he said plans were being ironed out to resume face to face instructions at schools, with the introduction of a COVID-19 testing regime.

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Since the onset of this latest COVID-19 spike, education officials announced the resumption of online school, which commenced on Wednesday, January 5.

However, the Minister said that the full plan is still in the planning phase for the rapid antigen testing of school children.

How often students will be tested is not yet known, he said in response to our query on the matter, adding that “those details we will soon work them out.”

The projected date for the resumption of face-to-face instruction is also not yet known, he said.

Nonetheless, the Minister said the testing regime is a protective measure.

“We know that children, it is very difficult to keep them from making contact with each other because of course that’s the nature of children. It is difficult to get them to social distance, try as we might, so as an additional layer of protection we want to be able to introduce testing.”

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He added: “Now this may seem like a strange concept here in the Virgin Islands, but many places in the world have introduced testing into schools. It is not being done to be abusive to anyone, it is not being done to violate persons rights, it is being done in an effort to keep persons safe.”

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