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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