Schools included in government mask mandate

| 20/09/2021 | 54 Comments
Cayman News Service
Boxes of masks for schools with (L-R) Education Minister Juliana O’Connor-Connolly, Parliamentary Secretary Katherine Ebanks-Wilks, HSA Deputy CEO Ronnie Dunn, HSA CEO Lizzette Yearwood and Health Minister Sabrina Turner

(CNS): Children will be wearing masks in school again for a while as government rolls out a mask mandate for all of its buildings. Guidance issued on Sunday by the Department of Education Services (DES) includes a requirement for all students over the age of five to wear masks when riding the bus and moving around school campuses, while indoors, and while in a group setting.

Kids can remove their masks when playing outdoors, eating or working independently at their desk. Students who are unable to put on and take off masks without assistance are exempt, as are teachers who rely on mouth cues such as lip reading for communication with students; distancing should be maintained.

While the George Town Primary School is closed until the end of this week, the government remains concerned about the potential for further outbreaks in other schools. The ministry and DES have issued new guidance for all schools, including those in the private sector, from early learning to UCCI, on key safety measures, including social distancing, cleaning amidst the community spread of COVID-19 and the use of online learning.

The document covers preventative measures for a safe school environment, the roles and responsibilities of management, the transition from in-person to remote learning and child protection. It also stresses the importance of the mental health of students.

“The health and safety of our children and educators is our utmost priority,” Education Minister Juliana O’Connor-Connolly stated. “This document is aimed at supporting our local educational institutions as they maintain a safe and positive learning environment for our children and aid schools’ preparation for the transition to remote learning should the need arise.”

MoE Chief Officer Cetonya Cacho added that the ministry will be guided by public health experts on how to deal with the potential spread in schools and inform the public of any new developments to ensure the continued health and safety of children and educators.

Meanwhile, as of Monday, members of the public must wear face masks inside all government buildings, as the civil service increases safety protocols to minimise the spread of COVID-19. People visiting government buildings are asked to bring their own masks and follow the direction of security officers.

Last week the Health Services Authority (HSA) and Ministry of Education have engaged in a joint initiative to provide 500 masks to each school in the Cayman Islands. Officials said that his measure is aimed at providing an added layer of protection to our vulnerable children who are not yet eligible for vaccination. Health Minister Sabrina Turner and HSA officials presented the masks to Minister O’Connor-Connolly and Parliamentary Secretary Katherine Ebanks-Wilks on Wednesday, 15 September.

For COVID-19 guidance exists for educational institutes, visit the CIG webpage here.

The guidance document is also in the CNS Library.

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Category: Education, Health, Local News, Medical Health

Comments (54)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Can the DES cite any research whatsoever, which shows that the benefits of COVID risk mitigation from masking our children outweighs the detrimental effects on their emotional and cognitive development?

    If not please leave our kids alone.

  2. Anon says:

    Is there a mask mandate for the general population, and/or businesses? I keep checking the GIG website and do not see any definitive answers. Also their website is all but useless, it just runs you in circles of old information. Jeez, how much are we paying for it?

  3. Anonymous says:

    I don’t think this photo op is going to age very well when they reverse course yet once again.

    This policy is so idiotic, I don’t really have any sympathy for anyone associated with it…

  4. Anonymous says:

    According to the CDC for the week of July 31 the rate of hospitalization with Covid for children 5 to 17 in the USA was 0.5 per 100,000.

    There is c.10,000 5-17 yr olds children affected by this mask mandate here.

    So to avoid a 1 in 20 risk chance of a ONE child being hospitalized here, we are getting 10,000 to wear masks. (10/100×0.5=0.05 or 1/20)

    This response is more than just disproportionate it’s downright abusive. Why are our kids the innocent victims of this government’s political posturing?

    • Rick says:

      Your math is off. 0.5 in 100k is equal .05/10k (divide each by 10).

      Therefore, the risk is one child for every 20,000 children in the age range (.5 child for every 10,000).

      A risk of 1/20 as you concluded would amount to 500 children likely to die in our pop of 10k, which is incorrect.

      But, great point.

      But your point is well made.

      • Anonymous says:

        Maybe my point wasn’t clear.

        When I wrote that there is a “1 in 20 risk chance of a ONE child being hospitalized” the emphasis was on the word “ONE”. That’s why I put ONE was all in caps.

        Using CDC numbers, there is a 5% or 1/20, that ONE child in the entire island is hospitalized. Not 1/20 kids…

        To look at it another way, if there are 0.5 hospitalizations per 100k kids, that would mean there are 1.0 per 200k.

        For 10k kids, you would have 10/200 or 1/20 or 5%.

        Does that make sense, or am I missing something?

        Also, I used the word hospitalizations, not deaths. Deaths are exceedingly rare. Again referencing the CDC, from January 2020 to Sept 15, 2021, there were 439 COVID deaths for persons under 18 years.

        For that same 21 month period, there were 56,092 deaths from all causes for persons under 18 years. Therefore, only 0.78% of deaths (less than 1/100) of kids were attributed to Covid.

        Covid barely features in the list. Children suffer far more fatalities from accidents, car crashes, suicides, drug overdoses, firearms, cancer, drowning, heart disease etc.

        • William Banks says:

          Good points. I would like to add that, in the US, there are approx 73,100,000 kids under 18.
          So if there have been 439 ‘covid deaths’ (many of which would also have been due to them having other serious health conditions) this works out as:
          439 / 73,100,000 * 100 =
          0.0006 % of the under 18 US population.

          You mentioned that there are 10,000 kids age 5 to 17 here, so at most we could expect possibly 0.06 children to die from covid. That is essentially ZERO.
          Has there been been 1 child reported to have died exclusively from covid here?
          Why is the government abusing children in this way?
          It is fundamentally important for children to see each other’s faces, expressions, smiling etc.

  5. Anonymous says:

    I don’t think the school children should be required to wear masks. They will be interacting on the playground and during lunch breaks anyway, so why require them in the classrooms???

  6. Anonymous says:

    Vaping will do far more harm to our students this year than covid ever will.

  7. Anonymous says:

    So if we can mandate masks for kids in school, why not vaccines for gov’t workers, particularly those on the front line?

  8. Anonymous says:

    Complete and total idiots in govt!

  9. Anonymous says:

    Masks on kids running around outside. I’m sure these masks will end of very vlean, sterile and healthy throughout the.

    These politicans are brilliant in medicine and should be in charge of our children’s heqkth.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Mask directions state one time use. So…how long will this supply last?

  11. Anonymous says:

    Wearing a mask lessens the chance that a mask wearer will pass the virus on to others. As has been pointed out, children are usually asymptomatic and recover easily. Most usually won’t even know they have it.

    And that is the crux of the matter…..

    You child may catch COVID, bring it home to mummy and daddy, who may then become infected, they may or may not be asymptomatic, and then pass it on to grandma without even knowing, but grandma doesn’t fare so well.

    • Anonymous says:

      If grandmas is vaccinated, she will 99% be fine. This is not March 2020. Back then we accepted school shut down to protect the elderly. In Sept 2021, you can’t pull that same rationale.

    • Jtb says:

      If grandma hasn’t been vaccinated that’s her own look out. Why should the rest of us pay for her stupidity with our freedoms?

  12. Anonymous says:

    When, if ever, was the last time any of these policy making clowns was actually in a classroom?

  13. Anonymous says:

    Forcing students to wear masks lacks a well-grounded scientific justification

    Forcing children to wear masks could inhibit breathing, lead to the collection of dangerous impurities including bacteria, parasites, fungi, and other contaminants, and adversely affect communications in the classroom and student performance

    There is no statistically-significant evidence to suggest that schools with mask requirements have fared any better than those without mask requirements during the 2020-2021 school year

    • Anonymous says:

      This information is just a pure pile of rubbish. Here’s why you are wrong:

      “Forcing students to wear masks lacks a well-grounded scientific justification”

      Across 166 schools in Maricopa County, Arizona, COVID-19 outbreaks are two times more common at those without mask mandates, said Dr. Rebecca Sunenshine, medical director of the county’s public health department.

      Studies from school districts in other states including North Carolina have also found that masking can greatly reduce COVID-19 transmission rates, especially when it’s combined with physical distancing and other prevention measures.


      “Forcing children to wear masks could inhibit breathing, lead to the collection of dangerous impurities including bacteria, parasites, fungi, and other contaminants, and adversely affect communications in the classroom and student performance”

      From the same source above: Using cloth masks for children is fine, they do not need to use disposable ones. “Experts say washing masks routinely keeps them safe and clean.”

      Also: “We don’t know for sure that masks have no developmental effects but we do know that there are adverse effects from not trying to stop transmission,” said Dr. Emily Levy, a critical care and infection control expert at Mayo Clinic Children’s Center.

      Meaning that the risk of there being developmental issues is far, far lower than the damage a viral outbreak of Covid will do.

      “There is no statistically-significant evidence to suggest that schools with mask requirements have fared any better than those without mask requirements during the 2020-2021 school year”

      There is and it’s discussed above.

  14. Anonymous says:

    This is descending into hysteria now. Poor children!

  15. Anonymous says:

    This is absurd! UK got rid of masks in schools and did not see any uptick in COVID cases in children. We are supposedly following the science but its a pick and choose, follows no logical sequence, etc. Should we not be looking at best practices, learning and applying?

    This is being forced on the kids to “protect them”. From what? A virus they generally have: a) zero symptoms from, or b) no greater symptoms than what they get from the standard cold or flu (note I am NOT saying that COVID is the same as the common cold/flu, however, in children, it is 99.9% of the time effectivley similar).

    So, I don’t need to wear a mask in my office but my kids have to wear one at school all day? Ridiculous.

  16. Anonymous says:

    According to the CDC, “obesity may triple the risk of hospitalization due to a COVID-19 infection”.

    Maybe the people in this photo should lead by example and lose weight rather than do this stupid photo op.

    Being a little kid is hard enough. Stop punishing them with these pointless mask mandates to protect lazy, fat and/or unvaccinated adults.

  17. Anonymous says:

    What a waste of time. Impractical, unenforceable and completely pointless.

  18. Anonymous says:

    Leave the kids alone!

    Why are kids being forced to wear masks to protect adults that are too lazy or stupid to get vaccinated?

    For kids, the seasonal flu is statistically a much deadlier virus than COVID-19.

    This new rule is unfair and will have a lasting negative effect on our children’s social and cognitive development.

  19. Anonymous says:

    So if the students must now wear masks, does this mean that schools will no longer entirely shut down if there is a positive case?

  20. Anonymous says:

    A complete over reach. Research now shows that masks harm a child’s developing brain who need oxygen, let alone the physiological damage caused by wearing them long term. For every one article saying they work there are at least 10 saying to the contrary, as there is now collected data from the last 18 months. These countless articles would be listed but CNS won’t post all the articles which is understandable.

    • Anonymous says:

      2021 is truly the year of google medical experts.

    • Anonymous says:

      You claim research proves your assertion but then don’t bother to link anything… I’m only coming up with the masks do very little to no harm at all. Children understand there is a pandemic and that they need to wear masks to keep themselves and others safe. I don’t understand why this is such a problem.

      • Anonymous says:

        Do you have young school-age children having to wear mask?

        Have you had to do homeschooling for the past two years while managing a job?

        No one disputes that masks are physically safe. That’s not the point. It’s regarding their emotional, social and cognitive development.

        The negative effect that having to wear masks during these very important developmental yours will have.

        No a five-year-old does not understand there’s a pandemic. Nor should they have to. I’m tired of society pushing things on them

  21. Anonymous says:

    mask wearinfg for children is pure tokenism and will achieve little.
    the real questions remain:
    what is the risk to children?
    how many will get sick and how many will need hospitilisation?

    • JTB says:

      None and none.

      But it addresses the pressure being exerted on MPs by their more cretinous constituents to try and prevent the inevitable rather than learn to live with reality.

    • Anonymous says:

      Let me answer your questions for you.
      1) very little
      2) much less then wind up every year in the hospital due to flu

    • Anonymous says:

      “what is the risk to children?”

      For wearing masks? A lot lower than getting Covid that’s for sure. It certainly won’t stop all transmission but it will help.

      “how many will get sick and how many will need hospitilisation?”

      To my knowledge and you are free to look around but I have not seen any evidence masks cause hospitalizations or deaths in children.

      • Anonymous says:

        And I have not seen evidence that COVID causes hospitalizations or deaths in children. There is practically no risk to them! Greater chance of getting in a car accident on the way to school. Shall we insist no kids ride as passengers to protect them?

        • Anonymous says:

          There is still long Covid and MIS-C that can affect younger people. You are generally correct that Covid will not harm most children. The idea of wearing masks is to limit the spread, not to prevent it entirely.

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