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Tuesday 4 August, 2020

The 'new normal' and schools: Health officials hold talks with MoE

What will the 'new normal' look like for schools?

Speaking at the health briefing on Wednesday, Chief Medical Officer (CMO) Dr Roshan Parasram said Ministry of Health officials have met with the Ministry of Education's Permanent Secretary and Chief Education Officer on the reopening of schools.

Parasram said the World Health Organisation (WHO) has a specific guideline for the reopening of schools.

The guideline, he said has been shared and discussed with the Ministry of Education.

The CMO noted that social distancing is extremely difficult in a school setting.

Going forward, Parasram said emphasis must therefore be placed on frequent handwashing and sanitisation of surfaces.

Most importantly, he stressed that children and teachers should stay home if they are ill.

"It is very difficult to do social distancing for children, as I have said on this forum many times. Social distancing is extremely difficult in a classroom setting as well. What we have to rely on is frequent handwashing. We have to rely on frequent sanitisation of frequently touched surfaces for instance, doorknobs, desktops, chairs etc."

"The most critical one is that children need to stay home and teachers as well, if you are ill, so that we don't get ill persons in that environment. Once you get ill persons in a school environment that virus or that disease tends to spread very quickly through the school environment, as we have seen with gastroenteritis, hand, foot and mouth disease, influenza and the normal common cold. We expect that the same would happen with COVID-19, if that becomes introduced into that environment."

Schools have been closed since March 13.

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