VACCINATION OF SCHOOL-AGED CHILDREN REMAINS KEY TO HAVING SCHOOLS REMAIN OPEN; PROLONGED ABSENCE FROM SCHOOL CAN HAVE DEVASTATING EFFECTS ON CHILDREN – DR. CAMERON WILKINSON
Basseterre, St. Kitts, January 14, 2022 (SKNIS): Owing to the ongoing fourth wave of COVID-19 infections across the Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis, schools have remained closed until January 24, 2022, with the exception of Early Childhood Centres and fifth form students only.
During the January 12, 2022 NEOC COVID-19 press briefing, Medical Chief of Staff at the Joseph N. France General Hospital (JNF), Dr. Cameron Wilkinson, indicated that the Government will focus on reopening schools safely and containing any future infections within.
“We know that the schools will fully reopen on January 24, 2022…We believe that limiting the spread of COVID-19 is key to keeping the schools open and the best protection is getting vaccinated for those who can be vaccinated along with the use of the non-pharmaceuticals. We want to encourage the parents to make sure that by January 24, 2022, if your child is between the ages of 12 to 17 years old you would have taken them to the health centre so that they can start with at least one shot. We know that one shot offers significant protection that increases when you have the second shot and if you qualify for a booster you get even more protection. Make sure that your child has a proper mask; it makes no sense to have a mask that is ill-fitted or one that is over your chin and not over your nose… These are the simple things that will help us to contain this spread,” said Dr. Wilkinson.
During the first term of the 2021/2022 school year, the Ministry of Education utilized a number of delivery methods to ensure that students across the Federation received quality lessons whether in person or virtually. Dr. Wilkinson further outlined a number of reasons why schools can no longer be disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic as part of the way forward.
The Medical Chief of Staff said that children should not have to stay out of school when some children test positive “whereas early on in the fight against this virus when we identified one or two cases in a school the school was closed, we believe that the best place for our children now is to be in the classroom.”
“Being out of school for a prolonged period of time could have significant negative psychological and psychosocial effects on the children, and remote learning is not for everyone. If these children are not back in school, this prolonged absence from the classroom can have severe devastating effects for this generation of children,” said Dr. Wilkinson.
The Ministry of Health, in collaboration with the Ministry of Education, has decided that suspected cases will be tested and if negative, stay in class. Parents are being urged to have their children vaccinated at the soonest possible time.
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