BVI News

Opposition calls on gov’t to close all schools for 30 to 60 days

Opposition Leader Marlon Penn

Leader of the Opposition Marlon Penn is calling on government to close all schools for the next month or two as a precautionary measure against the rapidly-spreading Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) which is impacting the region.

Penn made the suggestion during an Opposition meeting held on Monday, March 16.

He made it clear that his Opposition members are in support of some of the Fahie administration’s precautionary measures for the territory, but said he believes government needs to go further and follow the best practices of other nations that are managing the spread of this virus.

“The time is now to close all public and private schools throughout the territory for the next 30 to 60 days as we go through this transitional period. The young persons amongst us are suggested as being the carriers and their risk is too great to do otherwise,” Penn stated.

He added: “The safest thing to do – and we are already on the cusp of Easter break which would normally have a two week break anyway – is just bite the bullet and send the students home. Let’s be safe instead of being worried about the potential fallout.”

Resources are available to get it done

Penn said he believes the resources are available in the territory to ensure that children, while home during this period, continue their curriculum.

He said: “The continuation of the learning process where possible can be facilitated through lesson plans shared with parents to perform home schoolings, and virtual classrooms where applicable. We implore the government to take this very necessary step to keep our children and wider population safe.”

Opposition legislator Mark Vanterpool shared similar sentiments and said that talks have already been had with Premier Andrew Fahie on the matter, and he expects an announcement to be made soon with regards to his decision.

Elderly must be protected

Meanwhile, Penn also stressed on the need for government to enforce measures of social distancing, and prevent all aspects of mass gatherings for the well-being of the vulnerable members of the population – the elderly.

“Contraction have been proven fatal, based on statistics for this vulnerable population (elderly), the measures of social distancing, isolation and limiting mass gatherings have been shown to flatten the curve and the spread of the virus during its peak stage,” Penn expressed.

“We must follow the World Health Organisation guidelines on restricting mass gatherings for the next 30 to 60 days in the first instance. This is one of the preventative measures that we must use to slow the transmission rate of this virus,” he further said.

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  1. Kevin Mcalister says:

    So,who will be staying home with them? Just curious

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    • Babysitter says:

      Why of course it will be Marlon Penn! Parents can just drop off all their kids at Marlon’s houses and he’ll take care of them for the 30 to 60 days that the schools are closed. Thanks Marlon

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      • One Day. says:

        I wonder to will take of them when they are infected by Covid-19? Continue to be a penny wise and pound foolish. You find was to do all manner of things but when it’s you children always a problem.

        Continue you will see. This country is lost and only God could truly help us.

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        • To One Day says:

          So foolishness going around by the pound now? LMAO….you’re so fast to comment,but cant check your spelling LOOOOOOL

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          • ??‍♂️ says:

            You set of simpleton, the world going to s**t and this is what you are concerned about? We’re truly f¥€k€d in the BVI

    • Are you serious says:

      There are yours!

      Like 8
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      • To are you serious says:

        Bozo, if the parents have to work and have nobody to watch their kids…what the heck you want them to do??

        • Are you serious again. says:

          Putting money in front your kids well being. Since you are a non bozo, you should have been saving just a few dollars just in the event disaster strikes. The year just started, I am sure you still have vacation and sick days. Oh no you were saving them for the trip to Disney world that you can’t even afford. Albeit staying home with your own children for a few days.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Lol if the territory doesn’t have cottons virus there should be no need to close schools however if need be parents should be willing to stay home to care for their kids… So you rather risk your child’s health and yourself and other people around you just for money. Bvi parents are selfish… Too focused on making money to impress people who just don’t even care… Smh dumb BVI.

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  2. Frig up says:

    And not one case yet – in the BVI. Stupid idea!

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    • Keep it Real says:

      Grenada doesn’t have any cases as well but they have already closed their schools. Prevention is better than cure.
      Why wait until you have something and then treat it while you can put measures in please to avoid catching it in the first place.
      Think about it.

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    • Really! says:

      So you will wait until you have a case to close the schools? Do you understand the rate of spread for this virus? By the time you find out a student is infected have the school already infected.

      Are we not seeing what’s happening around the globe? Continue to act like ostrich in put your heads in the sand. Where there’s no vision the people perish.

      Like 26
    • Interesting says:

      On March 12, The Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) issued a notice to Chief Medical Officers of CARPHA Member States saying that effective Monday 16 March, each member state would be allowed a maximum of twenty samples per week for the detection of the SARS-CoV-2 virus (which causes COVID-19). This, they said, was in anticipation of the likelihood of increased samples for testing and notification of possible disruptions in the supply chain of critical reagents required for laboratory detection following the confirmation of positive cases of SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) in six CARPHA member states.

    • smh says:

      So we can’t be proactive? We always have to be reactive? If there’s an outbreak everybody will be blaming the government for not putting stricter measures in place sooner.

  3. Silence says:

    It do have a case or two but they are not being upfront with us, they are only telling us when someone is negative for the virus.

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    • Keep it Real says:

      Grenada doesn’t have any cases as well but they have already closed their schools. Prevention is better than cure.
      Why wait until you have something and then treat it while you can put measures in please to avoid catching it in the first place.
      Think about it.

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    • smh says:

      I agree. Also people are probably scared to come forward if they suspect they may be sick because of the level of ignorance and arrogance being displayed about the disease. People don’t want to be victimized by having their face floating all over WhatsApp and social media nor be subjected to the stigma being attached to being sick.

  4. Unknown says:

    This makes no sense not one case yet in the bvi parents have to work so what are we going to do with our children

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  5. Listen says:

    @Frig up you mean not one case that has been tested and come back positive.
    How many people have even been tested?
    How many people are visiting or have travelled to the US or Europe and don’t have symptoms but are spreading the virus.
    Learn from the mistakes made in Europe and implement social distancing right now. Close schools. Work from home. Don’t go to church. Don’t go to restaurants. Don’t go to parties.

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  6. Hmm says:

    Good to see the government interested in protecting the people however 30-60 days? 3 weeks out of school is good enough and I hope government have something in place to teach students online.

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    • Same Difference says:

      I think Hon. Penn is saying the same thing. I don’t he means you keep them out of school for the school for the entire period. If 3 weeks pass and the virus is contained of course they go back to school but if it’s peaking during that period then they remain closed. The situation is too fluid we can’t and should not take any unnecessary risks.

      Prevention is better than cure, Italy took it lightly and we’ee seeing what is happening there. Our small population cannot handle a massive infection rate. It will bring our territory to its knees.

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  7. Wow says:

    Not 30-60 days, 3 weeks are good enough if the virus doesn’t calm down then we can moved forward with the days. Also Hope The Government have a online program to teach these students.


    Let me share this. In the end, it will be impossible to know if we overreacted or did too much, but it will be QUITE apparent if we under reacted or did too little.

    The school is a breathing ground for contracting any and everything that is passing around. The Centre for Disease Control recommended that we should avoid crowds up to 50 persons.

    Have you stop to think of the person who the screening missed and interacted with a child who goes to school? It would spread like wild fire.

    For the safety of our children and teachers, PLEASE CLOSE SCHOOLS.

    Like 36
  9. Eyes says:

    Marlon is right close the schools a teacher just got back from the UK and didn’t even self quarantine herself . We need to also close the airport for a 2 weeks and stop allowing passengers coming from international destination especially the UK and the us let’s accept the fact that tourism at a stop for now and be protective of our citizens. Wait and you will hear about which place under quarantine because of the UK flight Marlon have his reason for the call.

    Like 22
  10. Why says:

    Why should we wait for a posistive case in the B.V.I to take action…stop the ferry service from St.Thomas and St.Croix. Need I mention surroundings Islands.

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  11. Whew says:

    Talk for talking same. Can’t y’all just discuss behind closed doors. Why all this meeting here and there trying to score points.

    I wish he was this vocal as the Junior Minister for Trade and as a member of the Government of the day. Couldn’t even get the road in his district fix.

    Trying to hard brother.

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    • Political J¥€k ^$$ says:

      Everything from you people is politics, so the opposition shouldn’t express their view on an important topic like this? They don’t speak you people say their not doing there job, they speak they’re trying to score political points. You people sickening. Speak in private with who? Andrew? Anyone could speak in private with him.

      Is Hon. Penn the Minister for Transportation? The minister paving roads in his and other Government members district. Why you don’t tell the minister paved the roads? I heard Smurf asking questions about those very roads in the last HOA.

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      • Listen says:

        I am sure Government is discussing this to determine the best course and how to roll it out very soon. What is irresponsible is this politician for points trying to just throw things out to get ahead to score points. Since he has this idea what are the details to make it work? None I’m sure. Just let Government do things properly please in the best interest of the country as oppose to in the best interest of politics.

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  12. Foot solider says:

    I do believe the govt is putting and have measures in place . But are we going to wait until the horse get out of the barn to pull it back . One case is one too many look at the pace at which the virus is speeding through Europe and the US . A plea from
    WHO test , test , test . Use social distancing , work from home and do self isolation . By the time you find out you have the virus your lungs would be filled with mucus and fluid . Are there enough ventilators , protective gears for nurses , doctors etc . If the UK is short of ventilators , you think they would put their people over us . Talking about who would watch children is so petty and stupid . Let us keep the BVI safe for all of us and do a pandemic of kindness , look out for each other , help
    where we can and if school had to be closed z. Baby sit for your working neighbors we are in this together . Marlon you are right .

    Like 14
  13. Foot solider says:

    I do believe the govt is putting and have measures in place . But are we going to wait until the horse get out of the barn to pull it back . One case is one too many look at the pace at which the virus is speeding through Europe and the US . A plea from
    WHO test , test , test . Use social distancing , work from home and do self isolation . By the time you find out you have the virus

  14. Truth says:

    Same so with Jamaica….they hide it. They had so many cases here from before and the kept it a secret.

    • Nonsense says:

      There is absolutely NO WAY any Government in the Caribbean can hide this virus. Once a test is positive it will automatically update to the Corona Virus Database along with the country. So it’s impossible for Governments to hide.

  15. A Parent says:

    Honestly, they need to close the schools for at least 3 weeks and sanitized. Schools and day cares are breeding grounds for germs.

  16. Church Boy says:

    @ Listen…don’t go to church…and leave the Pastor in the lurch…you have got to be kidding.

  17. Confused says:

    So keep the children home, but the parents should go to work where they themselves can be exposed to the virus and bring it back home to those same children, then still make time to homeschool them. Are we doing the homeschooling before or after or during the work hours?

    I can guarantee you that the children will be out of school but not out of the public because then parents will have to take them to work with them or they will be left unattended.

    I really think no one cares about working parents with underage children.

    Just think. There is no way that DR, PR and USVI hsve cases and our patient 0 has not yet been identified. I strongly believe it is already here and the officials are hiding it. So that means the virus has already spread to a number of persons who may just be asymptomatic.

  18. :) says:

    If we prevent the virus from reaching our shores we dont need to shut down anything. Monitor the people that are going and coming, take the necessary precautions and we good to go. Shutting down schools is too extreme while we have no known cases right now.

    Shutting down schools also mean nothing if the students are free to congregate in other areas. If you shut down schools you might as well shut down places of business because their parents can bring home the virus to their children as well it goes both ways.

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  19. Anonymous says:

    Why make kids if you can’t watch them ? The schools are closed in one cough and it’s spread on to to the next . You people are very ignorant. When there’s multiple cases because they didn’t shut down school you people will blame the government. Now they’re taking precautions. We are not sure who has corona or not . There’ was many tourist that cane from abroad with a possibility of having Coronavirus and the bvi didn’t strop them . If you want to have corona and still work go ahead . But watch your own . Who send you to get breed to can’t watch your own kids.

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  20. 007 says:

    This makes no sense because everybody can get the virus. Closing school just means that students won’t be together at school. They will then find other places to mingle just like during summer vacation. When has no school ever mean students staying at home and just washing their hands. They will be all through the streets of Road Town, on the corners, basketball courts etc so the main issue of groups of people being together will not be solved. Therefore Marlon need a better solution.

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  21. My Appeal says:

    This is my appeal to the Premier and people of the Virgin Islands, we have just had a national day of prayer for our territory and we believe in faith that we will get through these trying times but faith without work is dead. Our school systems comprise a significant percentage of our population; students, teachers, administration, custodial workers, counselors, principals, and etc. A school compound is a daily mass gathering. One of the easiest ways and venues to spread an illness is at a school, many of which scarcely have the facilities and resources to keep up with the constant threats the are posed on health and wellness. CLOSE THE SCHOOLS!

  22. .. says:

    24 hour quarantine is needed. See what’s going in Italy..take heed

  23. true says:

    Close all borders.. nobody to come in AT ALL. As far as we know we have escaped it so far. Total closure is the ONLY way to keep it from coming in.

  24. Concerned says:

    School should be closed sooner rather than later. When a student with a cold goes to school, many students in the class come down with it also. In the case of COVID-19 it will no doubt spread in the school population putting students and teachers who have health challenges at risk.

  25. Yup says:

    Satanic piece of crap.

  26. OUTRAGE says:

    Why are the allowing travelers from St. Martin and St. Barths to land and stay in the BVI. Confirmed cases on both islands…. Shut it down, please.

  27. cool says:

    The UK is one of the high risk countries. I know of parents who came in on flights recently. Check all passengers who came from Antigua from the UK for the past 5 days.

  28. Agreed says:

    I’m in agreement with Hon Penn however, close for now until Easter based on how the virus progress or declines would be a better call. Children can be carriers of the virus, and survive; what who some children live with? elderly relatives, those with compromised immune systems, other children who are asthmatic even adults with respiratory issues we just don’t know. So to err on the side of caution a parent with school aged children who cant afford to stay home we have no choice. I will do what I have to ensure their safety.
    On another note how do you explain to 6, 8 10 even some teens that they need to stay away from their friends 3-6 feet? That they need to wash their hands often when these same schools don’t have soap regularly much less sanitizer? The onus is on parents to provide their kids with these items also, but how many are?
    At the end of the day we have to take proactive, preventive measures now, rather than later.

  29. Diaspora says:

    Yes, close the schools. The Novel Covid-19 Coronavirus has reached the pandemic level; it is highly contagious and easily spread so proactive actions should be taken to prevent, contain, control and mitigate the spread of the virus. It is poor form and irresponsible to wait until there is widespread infections at close schools to close schools. Do we want hundreds of chiren getting infected at schools and then taking it home to hundreds of homes to infect others.

    Moreover, closing schools will definitely put challenges on parents, ie, childcare, jobs…….etc, parents cannot afford schools closing……….etc. However, won’t parents have greater challenges when chiren come home with Coronavirus and infect the whole household? This is a national health crisis, a medical emergency and government has a responsibility to protect the health and safety of the populace. In this instance, government has to act in the collective interest of the many. Job one today is protecting the public interest. Tomorrow, it should look at how it can assist affected residents.

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