Corona closes schools, including HEART

Prime Minister Andrew Holness has announced that all public schools, including the government’s HEART institutions, will be closed for 14 days, starting tomorrow, March 13.

He, during a press briefing in Kingston this afternoon, noted that the closure is to help minimize the spread of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

Prime Minister Holness said: “As of tomorrow, schools will be officially closed for a period of 14 days. We will review this decision after 10 days… Tomorrow would have been a low turn-out day anyway – as was today.

“Parents would now have Saturday and Sunday to make further preparations for their children, and that would give us time as well to complete our preparations to ensure that those schools who would not have internet connectivity that they could receive materials to distribute to students so that they can continue their education at home. I think we have done as best as we can in this matter,” added Prime Minister Holness.

He, in relation to the renamed HEART Trust | NSTA, said that agency decided to close its campuses and training programmes after ‘reviewing their own situation’. The prime minister said he endorsed the decision.

In the meantime, State Minister in the Ministry of Education, Alando Terrelonge, who also was at the press briefing, said measures are being put in place to facilitate online lessons for Primary Exit Profile (PEP) students.

“Tomorrow we start training 180 teachers in our online platform so that they will be able to give lessons online in particular as it relates to our PEP students. We do understand that there is an examination that is upcoming, so certainly all our PEP examination workbook, practice activities – those are all available on our website at the Ministry of Education and Youth to enable us to continue with education,” Terrelonge further explained.

He noted that the ministry’s regional directors already met with school board chairmen and principals in relation to the closure of schools.

Jamaica, so far, has recorded two confirmed imported cases of COVID-19.

To minimize the spread of the potentially deadly disease, people should do the following:

  • Maintain a distance of at least one metre from persons who are coughing or sneezing.
  • Frequently perform hand hygiene by washing hands thoroughly with soap and water or using a hand sanitizer if hands are not visibly soiled.
  • Cover our mouths and noses with a tissue when coughing or sneezing, and then discarding it.
  • And resist the habit to touch our faces.

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