Premier denies school break is overreaction

| 08/10/2021 | 81 Comments
Cayman News Service
Premier Wayne Panton video message on extended mid-term break

(CNS): The sudden decision to close schools for the next two weeks, creating an extended mid-term break, was made in the interests of parents, students, teachers and principals and was not an overreaction, Premier Wayne Panton said in a video message Thursday. The decision to close government schools more than a week earlier that the scheduled half-term holiday, and the two high schools even earlier, was made because of the number of teachers in the high schools required to isolate as a result of the COVID-19 outbreaks and to prevent more staff being infected.

“We hope to reduce the risk of schools having insufficient staff to function safely and effectively,” Panton said. “We also hope to slow the spread amongst students in the school, given that our present isolation regime requires parents to isolate with their children, missing work, and in many cases for those more vulnerable families, additional support is required to sustain those families who are isolated.”

The premier accepted that families are finding this difficult and it is placing a strain on Public Health resources, as the team there continues to deal with quarantine for approved travellers and returning residents, as well as those isolating because of the community outbreaks.

“We did not make this decision to bring forward the mid-term break lightly but selected this option based on the current situation and our capacity to effectively operate both schools and the isolation and contact tracing mechanisms,” Panton stated. “I understand that this decision may be seen by some as an overreaction, given no advance notice to parents, students, teachers and principals. But in all honesty, we have made this decision in the interest of their own well-being.”

He said it was the best course of action to protect students and the faculty to try and slow the spread. “We all know that there is no ideal playbook, no one-size-fits-all solution to the management and control of COVID-19 and as such, we will continue to adapt our strategies to what is happening in our community.”

The premier also pointed to the arrival of the rapid test kits as an additional tool to manage community transmission and reduce the amount of people in isolation, though this figure has not been revealed for more than a week.

He said the civil service is finalising the national strategy for the use of the lateral flow tests. The plan is to deploy them in the schools after the mid-term break, easing up pressure on the PCR testing regime.

“No longer will students have to line up for hours to wait for a swab to get an indication of whether they are required to go into isolation,” Panton told the country. “This will also facilitate a shift in the Public Health isolation model for schools. The threshold for the number of positives in a class to initiate isolating the entire class, which currently stands at two, would change, as only students or staff who test positive would need to isolate. And lateral flow tests will allow for quick and efficient identification of positive cases.”

Lateral flow tests can be taken multiple times per week, giving results within 15 to 20 minutes as to whether an individual is potentially positive. Then that individual can get a PCR test to verify the result.

Panton described the current community transmission, which is largely impacting schools, as “painful and unplanned” and “of tremendous concern”, but said it should not surprise us. “The students in our school population are amongst the least vaccinated and ineligible to be vaccinated demographic,” he said.

While most children are suffering few ill effects and if they do they recover quickly, one very young child has been hospitalised and is one of two people who have been unwell as a result of COVID-19.

The unexpected re-emergence of the virus before the borders open, probably as a result of a breech in quarantine regulations, has presented government with an opportunity to test its systems and plug gaps. It is been apparent that the country was not ready to deal with the re-appearance of COVID-19, and the various departments are now scrambling to put in place the tools they need to manage the virus safely.

“The recent increase in community transmission, though not desired by any of us, has been a very useful test of our systems,” the premier said. “It has allowed us to clearly measure our level of preparedness, testing and response systems. And there are many lessons that have been learned, which we will continue to adapt.”

The community, he added, must learn to live with COVID by managing transmission, the capacity of public health and maximizing vaccine take-up.

See the premier on CIGTV below:

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Category: Education, Health, Local News, Medical

Comments (81)

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  1. Dr W says:

    The vaccinated and unvaccinated both spread the virus. The point of getting the vaccine is to reduce hospitalizations/death and not the spread (case in point – Israel). It would be helpful if the government goal can be shifted toward focusing on reducing hopsitalizations/death and shift away from reducing spread (i.e. cases). Start by only reporting hospitalizations/death and not cases. Reporting cases just spreads fear and focuses the narrative on spread (which the vaccine does NOT protect against).

  2. Anonymous says:

    only under 12 kids from fully vaxxed household should be allowed go to school.
    time to enforce pr-vax prtocols like the rest of the world.

  3. JTB says:

    Premier denies sky is blue.

  4. Anonymous says:

    4:45 mark. Dr Sara Watkin speaks about covid in kids.

    • Anonymous says:

      a brief spot of sanity, focused on facts

    • Anonymous says:

      Everyone should watch this! Dr. Watkin has over 30 years experience, her presentation is full of actual, credible data and she breaks it down for what it means here in Cayman. Please, please PLEASE take one hour out of your day to watch her presentation and share it with as many people as you can.

      • Anonymous says:

        She is an absolute wonderful dr since day 1 of my children’s lives. We are lucky to have her.

        • Anonymous says:

          Enjoy it while you can, she won’t be here much longer after speaking the inconvenient truth.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Premier denies being in denial.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Here in Canada, the Pfizer vaccine has been approved for children 5-11 years.
    Teachers and all government employees must be vaccinated or they are out of work and pay!
    We have been doing the Rapid testing for the past 6 months at entrance to nursing homes and hospitals for all asymptomatic,vaccinated and unvaccinated health care workers , and for the past 3 months, just the asymptomatic “unvaccinated “employees on everyday of work were required to be rapid tested. However, as of October 22, it is mandatory to be vaccinated or you have lost your job!
    The rapid tests are $5 per kit and can show results in 15 min and have a high sensitivity and specificity rate. If the person has symptoms, the PCR test is done.

    For those entitled, unvaccinated Caymanians, the rapid testing on everyday of classroom work, might be a reasonable way to go!
    Maybe they will get tired of the nose or throat probing and see the light and decide to get vaccinated!
    Yes, it appears that the Cayman government is very behind from the rest of the civilized world !

    • Anonymous says:

      Behind in terms of death rates yea. Entitled you say? Coming from a Canadian eh?

    • Please stop making stuff up says:

      No where in the world is any vaccine currently approved for 5-11 year old children.

    • Anonymous says:

      WRONG. Not approved yet in Canada for children under 12.

      Pfizer has submitted preliminary data to Health Canada seeking approval.

    • Anonymous says:

      Approved by who exactly? How did this turn into an entitled Caymanian argument?

    • Anonymous says:

      “Here in Canada”, where civilised means holding your nose and “flattening the curve” of deaths and hospitalisation crises. Where they couldn’t secure front-line PPE until months into pandemic, and no vaccines available until May of this year. Batting far above it’s population weight-class in per capita mortality. Thousands of dead neglected in Long Term Care homes that were supposed to be protected against an iron wall. Where many thoroughfare storefronts are shuttered…you’re open, you’re shut, you’re open, you’re shut. Where your #1 economic partner still won’t let you drive in. There were mandatory airport rape hotels, were prisoners weren’t fed. Go on tell us, so our eyes can glaze over with how appalling an example that country’s response has been, even with the benefit of hindsight in watching it approach from Europe and elsewhere for weeks. Canada didn’t even know what a PCR was until late 2020. Not even going to get into Alberta, Saskatchewan and BC stats.

    • Anonymous says:

      AND!! They are doing the tests incorrectly here in the Cayman Islands.
      When they first came out, they were required to scrape a bit of brain matter along with the back side of your esophagus via your nostril.
      NOW, they merely need to take the foam Q-tip up an inch or less and circle 5times for the sample.

      WHY OH WHY do they feel the need to make it as uncomfortable as humanly possible?? Almost like you should be punished for needing a test result.

      I had 3 in the US and not ONE of them required a brain sample from the back of my throat. I enquired about it and was advised that it is overkill and NOT required.

      Why does Cayman ALWAYS have to be behind the times and devoid of correct facts? Does everyone here get their “news” from social media???

    • Anonymous says:

      But way ahead in ignorance so we’re even.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Real sad to see the administration’s reaction to anything.

    Do us all a favor

    Resign now— all of you.

    Resign today!!

  8. Anonymous says:

    Enough already, the counties being run by pre-schoolers. Hope we are still around in 4 years. What a joke.

  9. Anonymous says:

    “In the the interest of their own well being”. Remember that big daddy government is only doing this because THEY know whats best for you. Our government has always done what it does for our own well being, guys. They know better than us and is better than you. Continue to work hard and bring in money so they can take their cut, you owe that to them for looking out for your well being. Care not that they have no idea about our individual circumstances, desires and needs. They just know how it should be for us.

    This managerial style of governance is upsetting. This infatuation with the numbers and governing based on the numbers on a paper is not working yet that’s all every government tries to do. You can have the biggest coffer in the western world what is that translating to for the people that vote for you? At the end of the day, they claim to know what’s best for each individual and treat us like a statistic. They claim the opposite but their actions are all the same. Its all just balancing the numbers and we are just numbers to them. A certain percentage is always expendable if it leads to better numbers on the report.

    I’m sick of the empty talk and platitudes from governments. This one and the last.

    Where is my best interest when I as a Caymanian cannot afford even a piece of land west of Bodden Town.. but don’t worry, land values are nice and high and looks good on the balance sheet for themselves and their friends in the big club.

    Where is my best interest when beaches are disappearing…but don’t worry the big buildings and construction makes it look good on paper and has all these good ratios on the report along with their balance sheet looking nice and fat.

    Where is my best interest when the the cost of living has increased astronomically and you all gave yourselves pay raises on top of the stipends you get already.. but don’t worry, all these numbers look great when you calculate the amount of money moving around in the economy. So again, better numbers at our expense.

    Where’s my best interest when public schools have kids leaving schools without the basic skills and proficiencies. Why is the curriculum still that of the 90’s and 2000’s when I was in school.. but don’t worry, they spend X amount per student and spent how much money to build a new facility. AGAIN, its not about actually effecting any real change.. its about the damn numbers.

    I’m tired of the talking about “Caymanians” when its all just lip service. When are people going to realize our government is ran by people with ego issues. Those who desire to rule over you in your best interest still wants to RULE OVER YOU. Its about time we decide what we want our government to be and do or this is all we are ever going have. Government touches too many aspects of the economy and our lives for them to have this power. Government is just a big club that we aint in. They are deciding, off of our hard work what best to do with the resources we provide. Why do we continue to accept this F#ckery and all the excuses? Year after year we come onto this website and complain about the management of our resources, Offreg, RCIPS, issues that we want to see action on, yet year after year we just sit by and let them take our money and run.

    They are sinking the ship and taking the silverware before they leave. That’s the mentality I see every MP. I’m sick of paying exorbitant indirect taxes while being told they care about me and getting absolutely shafted.

    • Anonymous says:

      What you’re saying is pretty much true of every government, everywhere.

      Nice list of complaints and I hope it made you feel a little better to vent.

      Property values are high in every desirable neighbourhood in most countries in the world.

      We are blessed to live in a beautiful, warm, safe place to live. But like in every other place, average people are priced out of the nicest neighbourhoods.

      If you want to live there, you are going to have to make more money to afford it. That’s how life works. Thats the price you pay to live somewhere nice. Otherwise you have to drive 30 or 45 minutes to get to work, just like most regular people in cities do.

      The government can’t do anything about this for you (other than perhaps build another eaet-west road to alleviate traffic, or actually have a a working public transport system). You have to figure out how to earn more money. No government you elect will ever care about you. It’s not a PPM thing, it’s not a PACT thing, it’s a fact of life in capitalist democracies. You can “decide what you want your government to be” until you die. Nobody is taking your money and running. If you’re Caymanian, you have a ridiculous amount of opportunity. More than you would anywhere else in the world. Why do you think expats flock here, from $6.00 an hour workers to billionaire business owners?

      Stop complaining and be a force for good and change for yourself and your community. Figure out how to take advantage of the opportunities available to you. No government will ever help you do that.

      • Anonymous says:

        If you’re Caymanian, you have a ridiculous amount of opportunity.

        Bigggest lie of the year

    • Anonymous says:

      Instead of complaining you should do what every happy Caymanian does. Work for the Government. They’re still getting a paycheck Bobo. And the benefits are the best on island.

  10. Anonymous says:

    If ANY teachers remain unvaccinated the Minister of Education has A LOT to answer for.

  11. Anonymous says:

    Huge overreaction. We are a year behind the real world.

  12. Anonymous says:

    Closures may not technically be due to an overreaction BUT the quarantine rules that have caused the teacher shortage ARE built on overreaction!

  13. Anonymous says:

    Mean what you say. Say what you mean. Don’t split your words Mr. Premier.

  14. Anonymous says:

    Poor Wayne being held hostage by Ju Ju’s paranoid ideas

    • Anonymous says:

      Having observed here for many years she is not up to the job. The modern word has passed her by.

    • Anonymous says:

      If you think it isn’t him calling the shots, you are a fool.

    • Anonymous says:

      She and A.N.Other were walking across the floor if the borders were opened. Beholden to a religious zealot. What a cluster!

  15. Anonymous says:

    Don’t panic Mr Mainwaring….Don’t panic…Don’t panic…

    ©️ Corporal Jones

  16. Anonymous says:

    This guy isn’t fit to lead anything.

    Biden 15% tax rate just killed Cayman

  17. Anonymous says:

    Premier Wayne Panton, absolutely clueless! You’re not fit for that job,Wayne. Go back fishing.

  18. Anonymous says:

    Massive overreaction. More lost school days for the kids involved. Pantonmine!

  19. Annie says:

    This current quarantine regime is ridiculous, unsustainable, and wholly reactionary. Get used to it Cayman. This virus is here to stay, in one form or another. We cannot lockdown everyone with children! Statistically children have a very, very low rate of mortality from Covid. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (view article at, in the US 5.9 million children have tested positive for Covid. Of those 0.1 to 1.9% have been hospitalized. And, 0.00 to 0.03% have died. I am very sorry for the family of the child that is ill. I truly am, but we cannot destroy this country, and deny our children a future. How many will die from other causes precipitated by these measures?

    • Anonymous says:

      @ANNIE.Are you a business owner?. You seem very angry. But rest assure the borders will be opened when cayman reaches 80%. For now stop complaining and help the community take up the vaccine.

    • Anonymous says:

      Evidence shows children contract Covid-19 from unvaccinated teachers. Question: IS THE TEACHER OF YOUR CHILD VACCINATED?

      • Anonymous says:

        Lmao, it’s not just teachers it’s everyone. If their teachers are testing negative then who are you going to blame? Clearly a parents, sibling, external family member, or family friend passed it on to them.

      • Anonymous says:

        Which evidence? I can assure you that no child has caught covid from any teacher in the recent community spread. You seem like one of those parents that blames the teacher if your child forgets to do his/her homework.
        Question: is everyone in your family, who your child interacts with, vaccinated?
        Question: is every child in your child’s school vaccinated?
        Question: are all the members in your household vaccinated, including your child?
        I think those are the questions you should be asking. Look inward and stop trying to point fingers.

  20. Anonymous says:

    Two babies are in hospital now with Covid. Dozens of children have symptoms.
    Closing schools to try to slow the spread is absolutely not an overreaction.

    • Anonymous says:

      so you reckon these kids are going to sit at home on their extra week off, wake up, smell the coffee and wait for the covid spike in 2 – 3 weeks smh

    • Anonymous says:

      The best thing you can do, if you care about your children, is to get vaccinated. That helps to protects not only you but your children. If you prefers not no get vaccinated do not blame anyone other than yourself if your children fall ill. That is on you. And I for one would not want that on my conscience.

    • Anonymous says:

      Govt should look to compile and make public a list of unvaccinated parents of kids under 12. All guilty of outrageous selfishness and reckless endangerment ….. name and shame!

    • Anonymous says:

      Right and all the kids are now out playing together from all different schools and age groups….great plan!

      This Premier is a joke as a leader.

    • Anonymous says:

      In hospital FROM Covid, or WITH Covid? BIG difference. It’s possible that they are in hospital for other reasons but have been tested, and found to have Covid, but been asymptomatic.

      As mentioned before, risk to kids is extremely low:

  21. Anonymous says:

    Thank you, Mr Premier for your overabundance of caution. The Brights of Cayman commend and support you.

  22. Anonymous says:

    Honorable Bush & Honorable Alden should immediately be appointed by the Queen to run the country, they will know what to do as they are the most experienced leaders we have ever had.

  23. neverwannabeacivilservant says:

    The Civil Service needs to finalise a strategy to ensure all civil servants are vaccinated.

  24. Anonymous says:

    It’s been apparent we were not ready to open. Wow. That’s not what the Minister of Health said. With the level of fear and unqualified ministers here, we never will be. If they can’t manage, only two in hospital, for God really knows what, how can we possibly open up?

  25. Anonymous says:

    I still don’t understand the point of isolating when we have a 78% vaccination rate.

    When will we stop isolating? Covid is permanent…

    • Anonymous says:

      We will lock down every year until a certain percentage of the population has a booster.

  26. Anonymous says:

    Mark Ray (August 2021) – “Considering the planned reopening of our borders and the fact that we are experiencing quite an active hurricane season, we have updated our continuity plan to ensure that we are ready for any eventuality. I am confident that we will be able to forge ahead with remote teaching and learning as needed,” he said

  27. Anonymous says:

    Education Law – “full-time education” means a minimum of five hours of curriculum instruction per day, excluding lunch and break times, for a total of at least one hundred and eighty-five days per year, or the equivalent hours per year, or any other duration of greater length as may be specified in regulations;”

  28. Anonymous says:

    $1.35 million dollars for 3500 laptops to ensure continuity of education.

  29. Anonymous says:

    What? Panton over reacting? Surely not.

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