Education officials battle COVID challenges

| 14/10/2021 | 59 Comments
Classrooms are laid out for social distancing

(CNS): The isolation requirements for families impacted by the outbreaks of COVID-19 across several schools continues to present challenges for the Department of Education Services. DES Director Mark Ray said masks, spaced desks and other social distancing measures such as staggered break times will continue after the extended mid-term break, as staff try to mitigate the spread of the virus in schools.

With another eight children among Wednesday’s positive results, the issue of juggling isolation for children and staff continues for education officials.

Ray said that schools have been significantly affected by the virus and as a result they are implementing plans in accordance with the needs of their students and the remote learning platforms that have been tested since the beginning of last month, with the first outbreak at George Town Primary school. He said 258 households signed on for remote learning with government laptops.

Ray said that the decision to extend the mid-term break came when even remote learning could not plug the gap because around 16 high school teachers were in quarantine.

He urged parents to talk with students ahead of their return to school later this month about social distancing and the other health and safety measures that will continue in schools for the foreseeable future.

The imminent rollout of rapid testing is expected to help schools manage teaching staff and in future prevent entire classes and all of their families from having to isolate when one child tests positive.

But prior to the mid-term break, dozens of students had reverted to online learning and their parents were prevented from going to work as they quarantine alongside their children.

Over the next week or so exit tests are being conducted at the hospital for students, teachers and families who were originally negative according to the schedule posted below. Families with a positive person in the household are to remain in quarantine until notified directly by Public Health.

See video from Mark Ray and testing schedule below:

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Category: Education, Health, Local News, Medical

Comments (59)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    I am not sure who is advising the Govt and schools.if the entire class is taken as contacts and their families almost all families in few days meaning lockdown.not practical and doesnt make sense.
    Just keep testing any close contacts or any symptomatics and isolate and treat positives.covid will be with us for yrs like flu.

  2. Robert MugabeIV says:

    The most important thing to do is everyone on the island watch that clip of Dr Watkins at the Health Conference.
    It’s very clear to see that kids are bulletproof. Something that many of us mentioned months ago but we’re lambasted by the holy jesus crowd aswell as people who preferred the fearmongering by the Pact who didn’t want to listen to science.
    Going forward there should be no testing of kids in schools and only the teachers should wear masks.
    If parents feel there child may have Covid use the rapid tests and go from there.
    Open the Borders, majority of Caymanians and expats are really fed up and the public I believe will not put up with continued tyrannical measures from Pact.
    Time to stop the nonsense!!!

    • Anonymous says:

      The link again for anyone who can’t find it. Dr.Watkins starts at 4 hours, 47 minutes into the conference.

    • Anonymous says:

      “Children are not the face of this pandemic, but they are at risk of being its greatest victims.”

      This quote is not in reference to actual COVID being a risk to children but so-called COVID management measures being a huge risk to their well-being.

      Bravo, Dr.Watkins! Government needs to be advised by her ASAP!

  3. Say it like it is says:

    MARK my words it will continue proliferating even if you have the desks 10 feet apart.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Education is battling whining parents who don’t want to isolate if their children is positive. That should be the headline.

    • Anonymous says:

      You are WRONG….We are isolation BECAUSE our child MAY have been a contact.
      This is RIDICULOUS.

      • Anonymous says:

        Got a better one for you. Child A is in a class that went into lockdown. Just before that lockdown occurred a member of family B visited the child’s home. Now the entire household of family B is in lockdown. Child A is not positive (yet), neither their family, much less family B.

        I’m not saying its wrong, but, it sure is hyper-conservative re the chance of covid getting spread.

  5. Anonymous says:

    The government needs to take not of what Dr Watkins said in her lecture. We cannot keep isolating households like this because a kid in class has Covid. It will have a worse affect on Children than Covid.

  6. Anonymous says:

    This madness needs to STOP! 60-70% of children who test positive are asymptomatic. That means zero symptoms. ZERO. The remaining who test positive have very mild symptoms. Why oh why oh why are forcing hundreds of families into quarantine? What actual risk are we mitigating here? We are inflicting more damage on children (and their parents) with these so-called COVID management measures.

    The only reason there hasn’t been an uprising is because, so far, this has not impacted the private schools. Wait until St. Ignatius, Prep or CIS have multiple cases. You can bet all the high-powered lawyer parents will bring action against government for false imprisonment once they are subject to these completely ridiculous 14+ day quarantines!

    Children have a much greater risk of dying by drowning, car accidents or cancer then COVID. We have not banned swimming pools or cars so why are we overreacting to children with COVID. Reminder to all – testing positive does not mean clinging to life on a ventilator.

    All those who are concerned for the children need to watch Dr. Watkin’s presentation starting at 4hours 47 minutes into the video from the Cayman Health Conference last week.

    • Anonymous says:

      She is literally a pediatrician that any dr calls when a child is in serious trouble on island and the government aren’t even listening to this very educated woman.

    • Anonymous says:

      Thank you for the link, great talk. Should be mandatory watching for all who are making decisions about children in Cayman

  7. Anonymous says:

    “even remote learning could not plug the gap because around 16 high school teachers were in quarantine.”

    Does quarantine somehow preclude remote working? Unless they were sick not just quarantining why couldn’t they teach from lock up? the whole “remote” part?

    I don’t get it.

    • Anonymous says:


    • Anonymous says:

      They still need an adult in the actual classroom. (Even if they can pipe the teacher in from their quarantine; remote teaching is more set up for the kids to have computers in front of them than be in class looking at a TV screen.)

      • Anonymous says:

        No you don’t need a teacher in the classroom. You need someone to supervise the children. That doesn’t have to be a teacher. Or the kids can work from home with one of the free laptops govt is handing out like candy.

        • Anonymous says:

          And where will these “adults” come from? Government does not employ supply teachers and I dont see out of work parents volunteering their time to assist. You sounding extremely smart in this comment.

        • Anonymous says:

          Unfortunately, that supervisor does have to be a teacher, so says education department. Sometimes you can slide by with a mature Assistant Teacher.

        • Anonymous says:

          They are legally required to have a teacher in the classroom at all times.

  8. Anonymous says:

    “He urged parents to talk with students ahead of their return to school later this month about social distancing and the other health and safety measures that will continue in schools for the foreseeable future.”

    What the hell are we doing to our children. And before someone says some BS quip like “saving them”. We all know the facts about children and Covid so none of this is “following the science”. We are causing untold phycological damage on them and parents should be enraged. None of this is needed.

    • Anonymous says:

      I am horrified at the effect these measures are having on my children.
      Anxiety like I’ve never seen before, paranoia from school friends, sleepless nights and depression.

      This is not fair and cannot continue.

    • Anonymous says:

      You sound like the type of parent who hosts chickenpox and pink eye parties.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Are these all public schools? If so, it would indicate that it is potentially Caymanian parents who are unvaccinated, and should probably go and get the shot. Don’t see any cases in private schools yet, which probably means most expat parents are vaccinated.

    • Anonymous says:

      Lots of breakthrough “cases” among the vaccinated. They are generally not sick but test positive while their antibodies fight off the virus. Still better to be vaccinated than not.

      • Anonymous says:

        there isn’t testing in private schools yet, but you can bet safely your mortgage that covid is there.

        The reason? demographics, now this isn’t an assumption, it might hurt but it is true.

        Public schools tend to have more front line workers as parents – nurses, receptionists, taxi drivers – all those people who are tested with regularity as part of their job.
        Guess what private school parents do? Financial services, lawyers, fund managers – none of whom require testing of any sorts unless they’re going into surgery.

        It’s in these private schools and has been for a while, we just don’t know about them yet.

        • anon says:

          11.18am Have you seen what some parents at public schools get up to?.However I do feel that private schools should be tested to see if Delta has reached them.

        • Anonymous says:

          Exactly, it has been here for a while as they didn’t test over the summer. Why the over reaction and out of proportion restrictions made on our children is completely illogical and even abusive.

        • Anonymous says:

          That is almost certainly correct. It may also be that parents in these schools, having had the advantage of observing the consequences of CIG’s response in the public school system, are not getting their children or themselves tested unless absolutely 100% necessary, because of the dismal (and irrational) social and personal consequences of a positive test result (i.e. 14 days quarantine).

    • Anonymous says:

      Just clarifying that the vaccine does not prevent people from passing along the virus. There seems to be a lot of misinformation being spread.

      • Anonymous says:

        The vaccines probably reduce the spread of the virus from a vaccinated but infected person by (a) reducing their internal viral load, so less virus to spread; and (b) fewer symptoms so less coughing, etc., to spread the virus. However they do not remove the possibility of spreading the virus.

        Unfortunately it is not like anyone can say that any particular vaccinated individual will spread 23.6% less virus than an unvaccinated person. There are just too many variables for that. Its about comparing infection rates per thousands of people and drawing inferences.

        Which is why the advice is to get vaccinated. And keep social distancing, masking and good (hand/respiratory) hygiene. Because per thousand people doing all of that the infection rate is even lower than when people do not.

        Plus the vaccines show a significant reduction of people in hospital for, much less dying of, COVID per thousands of people, vs those populations without it.

      • Anonymous says:

        Unvaccinated people are far more likely to catch covid in the first place. You can’t spread what you don’t have.

      • Anonymous says:

        Nothing prevents…it REDUCES!!!! Which is as good as it’s going to get for now. A drastic reduction!

        It’s like people are so stupid they say “well it’s only 95% effective and that’s not good enough so I’ll just not take it and be 0% protected”

        God give me strength

        Remove heads from asses and try again

    • Anonymous says:

      Vaccinated or not it can be passed on. There are cases in the private schools – double check your facts before posting. Btw I am fully vaccinated and I am a Caymanian.

    • Anonymous says:

      9.14 FYI The majority of kids in Govt schools are from Jamaica not Cayman.

  10. Anonymous says:

    You had 18 months to work this out!
    Other countries manage this why can we not?

    Why are we forcing vaccinated contacts or a possible contact into 14 day isolation? NO ONE does that and it’s a complete overreach of emergency powers act!
    Wake up people DO NOT allow this!

  11. Anonymous says:

    civil service struggles with the basics. end of story.

  12. Anonymous says:

    Why one arth are some unvaccinated parents allowed tos end kids to school, and some teachers unvaccinated? Forget quarantine for vaccinated – start to look closer to home and make sure teachers are jabbed. Crazy.

    • Anonymous says:

      How many teachers tested positive? A negligible amount. I say this to say contrary to popular belief, teachers are vaccinated. I’m trying to figure out why all you parents screaming for teachers to get vaccinated while you and your kids remain unvaccinated in some cases. Don’t you think parents have a responsibility to ensure that they and their children are safe; vaccinated? Take your advice and look closer to home.

  13. Anonymous says:

    Perhaps Mr. Ray could be so kind as to tell us how he proposes to fulfill the minimum number of teaching days as required by the education law?

  14. Trust says:

    – Stop travel for a month
    – stop the testing
    – vaccines are available or
    – acquire natural immunity
    – release the people in quarantine
    – people seek medical assistance if severely ill.
    – during this period if no one critically ill or hospitalized; open the border.
    – government focus on running the country.
    The virus is showing us, it’s not as deadly as it’s used to be.

  15. Anonymous says:

    What happens when there are positives after mid term break?! will the same lock downs apply? Do they think that COVID will go once mid term is over?
    If we continue to isolate everyone that comes in remote contact with a positive individual then the cycle of large number of persons is quarantine will continue.
    We have got to learn to live with the risks. I think we have done a tremendous job for mitigating the risk as low as reasonable possible. But its time to accept that there will always be some level of risk.
    The Government has done their job by providing heath care and education with regards to the virus, its time for the line to be drawn and the public accept some responsibility. If you want to wear a mask, wear mask, if you want to get vaccinated, get vaccinated, if you want to social distance, social distance. no one is stopping you from doing what you need to do for you. Its time for the government to stop trying to control every aspect of persons lives and let us live having understood the risk involved.

  16. Anonymous says:

    Evidence shows Covid-19 is most likely transmitted by unvaccinated teachers. Will the Dept. of Education produce a list of vaccinated teachers? Otherwise, other precautionary measures — masks, distancing, etc. — are moot actions.

  17. Anonymous says:

    In all my years I’ve never heard more bullshit and excuses. Open the damn schools Mark and quit depriving our children an education.

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