#Providenciales, Turks and Caicos Islands – September 7, 2020 — Public school teachers have been summoned to their classrooms come September 14, when full-fledged virtual education begins in the Turks and Caicos Islands.
The Ministry of Education & Youth has determined that having teachers in the classroom, with students joining them online, is the best to way guarantee a quality learning experience.
Wesley Clerveaux, Permanent Secretary at the Ministry today confirmed to Magnetic Media that all government schools will require teaching staff to take up their teaching post at their respective campuses.
On a case by case basis, it will be determined if educators with underlying health conditions could be exempt from this newest decision.
Teaching from at homes, is rife with potential pitfalls explained Clerveaux; not least among them, unreliable internet service.
The Ministry of Education is recommending that private schools adopt the same approach.
PDM’s Robert Been speaks out, calls Premier to forefront
#TurksandCaicos, September 13, 2021 – The people are not getting what they voted for. The momentum initially shown by the Progressive National Party’s administration is slowing down day by day – and we are only seven months from February 2021 elections. In general, the PNP party is accused of being arrogant, inaccessible, untrustworthy, unresponsive and displaying clear favoritism to their party supporters first, and I am encouraging the PNP to stick to the promises made to the TCI people that you will not continue in this way. Elections are over.
The voters gave you another chance to prove that you can do what you promised – to serve the entire Turks and Caicos Islands, but sadly, I don’t see enough of the work going on like it was promised.
While it is clear some work has gone into seeing better in our school system, Turks and Caicos Islands children are still being shared out of the spaces in their own country. We don’t want any child left behind, and definitely not our own children in their own land.
Why is this happening? With new schools, the Education Minister said these problems would be addressed, but the narrative continues. On behalf of the people of the Turks and Caicos Islands, I am calling for there to be an investigation into why our children cannot get into schools the government builds and staffs. We need real answers, progressive action, so that we understand what is going wrong and make it right… and this includes our special needs children.
Minister, you say you want the people to feel that you really do love them, well I call on you to immediately investigate every avenue to determine why many TCI families are still at the short end of the stick when it comes to securing sound education for all of our children – special needs or not, and enact productive plans that see a final end to these concerns.
A major policy change came into force since September 1st 2021, which impacted our tourism industry and investors – domestic and foreign. The Minister of Health is leading on this, but we also need the Minister of Tourism to step out and thoroughly review all aspects of this decision to thoroughly address the valid concerns being expressed by our citizens. Ego should have no room in managing our economy in a way that is best for our economy.
There is integrity in reconsidering the negative effects of a decision, and moving forward with a better plan. Only God is perfect. Let us look around the world and learn from their mistakes, as well as glean from their wise decisions. There are other ways to achieve a desired goal – Minister of Health and Minister of Tourism, I appeal to you, before things get worse, work together and please explore this in other ways as well.
As a stakeholder, and someone whom you both are familiar with, I am happy to make myself available to put forth my ideas if it means the better of our nation. Finally about tourism, it has been since March 2020 that Grand Turk and Salt Cay have lost their tourism slice.
Plans to revive this industry always seem to get pushed back with no updates since June 2021. Millions of dollars sit in the joint infrastructure fund and even though they had a meeting with Carnival Cruise Line in June, we have not heard anything about projects, incentives, the new dock or the new cruise line company. Meanwhile Grand Turk people are leaving the island and businesses have to shut down, which makes job opportunities even harder to find there.
Providenciales is our pearl, but other islands exist in our Beautiful By Nature island chain. I am challenging you to speak to us about the future of our industry and any changes you are planning for our brand. What are you doing to soften the blow of this pandemic so it does not sink our tourism ship and what actual plans are in place to strengthen our tourism product?
This is my final point. We cannot find spaces for our severely ill people at facilities in nearby countries due to the effect of surges of Covid-19 cases and the ongoing pandemic. We feel it for our regional health partners and are grateful for the open doors the NHIB was able to find.
However, if we are flown to the DR or Colombia, where we can find medical care and we die of the coronavirus – then the remains of our loved ones are cremated. This is a circumstance we cannot change and a heart-wrenching pill to swallow. I heard the Minister of Health say that it is out of his hands. And while that might be case, where is the plan to get Turks and Caicos out of this position? Let’s put our heads together to find a way around this.
No one wants the return of dear loved ones in a jar. We need a hospital which can cater to trauma emergencies. We need a hospital with a fully-functioning ICU. If it takes borrowing, if it takes strategy in finally developing medical tourism – let’s get the plan for it. Let’s get the public informed of that plan and with an agreed approach, let us finally fix healthcare in the Turks and Caicos Islands. Conclusion To the Hon Premier, your experience has earned you this prestigious title.
Your party’s theme was “We come for this wo’k”, and “this work” requires you to be occupied at the helm. Return to the forefront so your people do not feel abandoned in the midst of important health care concerns, the Covid-19 surge, cost of doing business, inflation and this recent mandate which lacked proper consultation by all levels of businesses in tourism and finance.
Your past experience, which you boasted has assisted in our country’s economic development and its thriving, is actively needed now. You have said many times, and I was happy to hear, that this is not about party politics, but about all of us as a people.
My call to you is the same. Turks and Caicos is a topclass destination and we demand top-class delivery on the Contract you wrote.
Just a reminder that the three (3) month stimulus plan is incomplete. The impact of the recent entry requirement is costing so many in hard-earned income – it’s time to deliver in full on this promise.
You wanted the work, you got the work, now do the work – for all of us!
Caribbean Wellness Day 2021
#Caribbean, September 13, 2021 – Health, in every facet, is sought-after, at great expense, by all members of the global community. Though the success of our endeavours in health varies from region to region, it must be emphasised that in our Region, a healthy Caribbean is always the goal for which we strive.
Each year the Caribbean Region observes, Caribbean Wellness Day since it was established at the 2007 landmark summit, ‘Declaration of Port of Spain: Uniting to Stop the Epidemic of Chronic Non-communicable Diseases.’
This year’s commemoration focuses on equitable access to health; an all of society approach to health and well-being, and building healthy communities under the theme, “Power Through Collective Action: In it Together, Building Healthy Communities.”
As health care systems are being taxed by the devastating effects of the COVID-19 Pandemic, it is even more important now to advocate for equitable access to health. Too many of our Caribbean citizens face harsh realities, because of inequities in access – this should not be. Caribbean Wellness Day is the most opportune time for the members of our Caribbean community to ensure that the health of our people is indeed a priority through legislative change, health in all policies and all of society action.
Equitable access to health care in the Caribbean is one of CARPHA’s points of focus as can be seen through our work to ensure equitable access to PPE, equipment, supplies and vaccines through the COVAX facility, a mechanism whose primary function is to ensure the equitable distribution of COVID-19 vaccines and donations notably the US Government donation of 5.5 million doses of Pfizer BioNTech.
Without the power of voices in chorus, like with the COVAX facility; the Caribbean Cooperation in Health (CCH) and others – many more would be disadvantaged and unserved. Achieving health for all in the Caribbean also means attaining and sustaining healthy environments.
The built environment, which provides for sidewalks, bike lanes, community parks and green spaces, can influence lifestyles, body weight, and improve mental health. As these necessary frameworks are made reality and we avail ourselves of them, we exercise Power through Collective Action showing that we are truly in it together, Building Healthy Communities.
As we speak about the environment, we must mention the effects of climate change. The inaction in the past has set the world on a course of environmental destruction. We need to act now; it is the only way that we can protect the generations to come from even worse realities than those we face today.
As we seek to mitigate the damage done due to inaction on the recommended major climate change interventions, we need to address other pertinent issues. Vector-borne diseases remain a challenge in many Caribbean territories, and unlike the bleak outlook that is presented on climate change, simple adjustments in our behaviour can make the world of difference.
By eradicating breeding grounds of mosquitoes in our immediate environment and communities, we minimize the spread of many vector-borne diseases. Advocacy in health should be the standard operation of every Region, State, and organisation. Sustaining Health and well-being is one of the very few universal desires.
Regardless of creed, culture, or any other divisive line – all organised bodies have a responsibility to promote health. Further to this, we need to take the time to look after ourselves and our families and communities.
Simple actions – increasing our intake of local produce, reading labels of processed foods to make informed decisions, scheduling regular exercise – these actions will drastically improve the health and quality of life of our people.
Working together to this end, will lead to healthier minds, healthier bodies, and a Caribbean that exudes wellness.
Opposition Leader says: Government Failing with the Re-opening of Schools
#TurksandCaicos, September 13, 2021 – There is nothing more important for a Government to do than to protect its citizens, especially the most vulnerable and the young. The Government exist to protect its own citizens. to protect their Health and wellbeing, and protect the economy.
And we know how critical it is to get our children back to school. It is especially critical for their mental health and their development. In achieving this, the Government must ensure that schools can open with confidence, both in capacity and in the broader public health indicators that exist. Safety of our children and our families should be driving the decisions of the Government every step of the way.
Our first job must be to care for our children, and provide a safe learning environment. However, the PNP Administration’s readiness for the reopening of Schools this week was frightening to observe. All occurrences showed that this PNP Administration was not adequately prepared, and did not provide the schools, through the Department of Education, the much needed budgetary support in human resources, adequate safety materials and supplies. In addition, they did not provide the schools with any enhanced and improved health and safety guidelines. They should not put your child and your family at risk.
The Three questions that are being asked are; Have all our schools been made safer for our children to return? Have all the schools and classrooms been inspected, and their safety protocols reviewed, to ensure adherence to the established COVID mitigation rules? The third question that is being asked is: have all school transports in good working condition for those schools that have a school bus to transport our students safely with the necessary health protocols in place.
I was expecting to see a new or enhanced plan for overcrowding and social distancing being employed at our schools? Why haven’t class occupancy been cut down to about 12-15 students? Why isn’t there staggered lunch breaks, chording of students, staggered class start times? Or does the Government think that the Pandemic is over with, and we could get by with doing the bare minimum?
The Government had every opportunity to be more than ready to mitigate against all the known challenges that the Pandemic presents. It would have been in everyone’s best interest if the Government has budgeted for the hiring more teachers, and more staff for the schools, which would enable decreasing class sizes, hence providing our students and teachers with a safer environment.
They should also consider hiring of additional custodians and cleaning staff. There are many persons out of work who would happily fill these positions. School Nurses should also be hired at all schools; for providing disease preventing and screening services, and for ensuring the proper functioning of the school health programs. Budgetary provisions should be made in order to specifically provide materials and supplies for school clinics (sick-bays). Instead we are hearing a shortage in the number of teachers and staff members across our Islands. Why was this shortage not address long before schools opened?
I was also expecting to see additional layers of protection being added to the Governments School Reopening Plan, which ensured the further protection for our children and the staff at all school levels. This should have included budgetary investments for improving the air quality and air ventilation systems in our class rooms. It is not too late to address this, simply reallocate funds, and get it done.
Temperature checks has continued, but is this still a reliable and effective indicator for CoVID-19, especially in young people who are usually asymptomatic?
Mask wearing is good, and it continues to be in the protocols. However, why has there been no budgetary investment in providing the students free access to a higher quality of mask. This should now be routinely provided at all schools for all our children. I hope that is would be considered and agreed on.
I was also looking for policy or plan for the monitoring and screening of the students and teachers, especially those who may be asymptomatic. Where are the screening kits, along with quality PPE for all schools? What effective protocols were implemented in the schools for detected and preventing possible outbreaks, and what are the improved school based surveillance systems in place? What are the triggers for action, and the contingency plans in the event of a spike in cases at a school? Has all this been communicated and disseminated to parents, teachers, and students? Are the schools capable of ensuring that children wear their mask, keep social distancing, and wash their hands for seven hours a day. We know that our little ones are not the ideal group to dictate strict guidelines to. All this should have also been comprehensively thought through and acted on.
We expect the Government to continue to act, invest, and add new layers of protection in order to ensure that all classes are safe for our children and the staff. They must execute the best decision in the best interest of our students, including those under the age of 12, who are not allegeable for vaccination.
As our children return to school, and as schools around the world are reopening, many scientists are warning of an increase number of COVID cases, and also warning that the greatest number of new cases will be in children, as many of our adults are now vaccinated. We are all aware that children spread viruses amongst themselves on a normal basis, in preschools, daycare centers, primary and secondary schools. And then they bring it home to the family. And if their family members are immunocompromised, or have certain disorders, or is unvaccinated the results could be life-threatening.
In some countries where schools have already reopened, COVID cases have already spiked, particularly in those under the age of 18, as the Delta variant is increasing in circulation. However, those countries are reporting of not seeing an increase in hospitalizations in that group.
Due to this increase in children mixing, which increase to increases in adult mixing, an increase in transmission opportunities will be presented to any coronavirus present.
The good news is that even though coronaviruses do affect children, those between 1-18, have far much lower rates of hospitalization and death, compare to other age groups. They often don’t develop any symptoms at all, and those that do tend to be mild such as a cough, low grade fever, of fatigue, and the majority would make a very rapid recovery. However, we must keep our guard up, and continue to be vigilant, and continue to monitor the symptoms, disease manifestations and severity that new and re-emerging variants present.
I encourage us all to continue to lift up in our prayers all parents of school aged children during this difficult time period. Also prayers for the students, asking for them to be provided with the resilience and the energy to overcome all these changes and disruptions. And prayers for the principals, teachers, administrators, asking strength for their continued dedication and effort, and for their personal safety.
We need to get it right, and safely open and operate our schools, and protect our students, teachers, and staff, and keep community transmission low, or not occurring at all. We must Protect our Future.
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