St Lucia: Ministry of Health asks residents to work together to keep school running during COVID-19
St Lucia: Ministry of Health asks residents to work together to keep school running during COVID-19

St Lucia: The COVID-19 pandemic has been described as a public health, economic and educational crisis. Of grave concern is the continued impact on the education sector and the future of children’s education.

The Ministry of Health, Wellness and Elderly Affairs of St Lucia has currently managing the 6th COVID-19 wave in the country. To date, the nation has recorded 23,978 cases.

Witnessing the increase in the daily positivity and infection rates, the country expects to see increases in the number of school-aged children diagnosed with the virus.

Keeping an eye on the issue, the ministry asked, “What can we do to help ensure our children’s safety and well-being as we continue to navigate the pandemic?”

While sharing the guidelines, the ministry stated:

  • The unwell students mustn’t attend school.
  • They should be tested for COVID-19 if deemed necessary by the health practitioner.

The Ministry of Health further explained the common symptoms. Ministry said, “Students may present with typical flu-like symptoms such as cough, runny nose, and fever. Others may have gastroenteritis like symptoms such as vomiting and diarrhea.”

“Some students may complain of headaches, while others may just be exhausted. If your child complains of feeling unwell, I urge you to do the right thing and get them assessed,” he added.

In addition, the ministry stated that if one household member is experiencing symptoms and is awaiting results for COVID-19, keep other children home until the results are received. It is also important for children to be tested if one household member tests positive (meaning they are contacts of a positive case) to ascertain their status and ensure a timely return to school.

The Ministry of Health is extremely important in identifying the close contacts of a case who can subsequently be quarantined and tested at the appropriate time.

It further asked that if one is informed by a representative from the school or the Ministry of Health that the child has been identified as a contact, please keep them in quarantine and observe for the development of symptoms. Take the child in for testing immediately if they develop symptoms or otherwise on the indicated day. This will contribute to breaking the chain of transmission and preventing outbreaks within our schools.

“On this point, we have noted the increased use of home rapid test kits. While it is useful for screening, the Ministry of Health requires confirmation of these tests with a PCR test. In the interim, it is absolutely important to report positive home tests to your child’s school to initiate the necessary steps,” it stated.

The ministry informed, “The Pfizer vaccine remains available for our 12-17-year-olds, the most affected group of children. Please consider vaccination for your eligible children and, of course, for yourself.”

Personal responsibility cannot be emphasized enough. All need to continue to observe the protocols and speak to the children about doing the same. Washing hands or sanitizing, proper wearing of masks and avoiding crowds have all proven to help reduce transmission. The pandemic took a substantial toll on both academics and the mental health of our children.

School is absolutely essential, and as children have returned to the classrooms, all must ensure that the government work to not only maintain a safe learning environment within the schools but in general so that schools can continue to run.

The ministry stated, “Take time to speak and listen to your child. Ask about their feelings, and offer reassurance. Practice kindness and empathy. Remember, anyone can contract COVID-19. We must all play our part.”

The Ministry of Health concluded, “For more information, please contact the Office of the Chief Medical Officer or the Epidemiology Unit at 468-5309/468-5317, respectively.”