COVID19: Schools to shut quicker under new protocols

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Schools will be shut down much faster under stricter contact tracing protocols, with entire classrooms considered close contacts if a student tests positive for COVID-19 after clusters were detected.

The Health Ministry policy change will also consider students to be close contacts if they were on the same bus as someone who tested positive.

On Thursday, the Health Ministry applied the new protocol to govern the handling of close contacts of students who contract the virus to stem the spread of COVID-19 in schools.

Under the new regulations, school closures are to become frequent, as schools will close for one week if positive cases, whether students or teaching staff are identified in three or more classes within the same week.

Students affected will continue their education online for a week.

A school having to close can only reopen a week later, with the entire school undergoing rapid testing.

Students and teachers considered close contacts would have to self-isolate for 14-days.

Those considered close contacts are children in the same classroom, out-of-class contacts during breaks, on the bus, and other social gatherings. They must all self-isolate.

Students in a class operating under distance-learning protocols cannot participate in afternoon or out of school activities.

“By changing the procedure, the possibility of creating a transmission chain in schools is reduced, and at the same time, educational work is protected in classes that do not have positive cases,” said the ministry.