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Opposition Leader says: Government Failing with the Re-opening of Schools

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#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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Tim and Henry to the Rescue: A Harrowing Search and Rescue Mission Highlights Need for Marine Vessel in Grand Turk

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#TurksandCaicos, July 12, 2024 – At approximately 2:45 pm on July 12th, a 911 emergency call came in from the police department in Grand Turk, informing Ed Forbes of a distressing situation. Four young adult tourists had gone out on paddle boards off Cork Tree Beach in Grand Turk, when one of them fell off the board and could not get back on. Evidently, they underestimated the wind speed and their own brute strength.

Ed Forbes, co-owner of Exclusive Escapes Grand Turk, played a pivotal role in coordinating the rescue. Responding swiftly to the emergency call, he immediately reached out to the local search and rescue team. His prompt actions and calm demeanor were instrumental in mobilizing the necessary resources.

Within 20 minutes or so, Tim from Emerald Escapes, along with Henry and Kindry from Blue Water Divers, were on the scene. Their experience and swift response were crucial in ensuring the safety of the stranded paddleboarders. Working seamlessly together, they managed to locate and rescue all four individuals without any need for medical attention.

However, this incident also underscores a critical issue that has long plagued Grand Turk: the need for a dedicated marine vessel for search and rescue operations and cruise passengers incidents. Despite numerous promises made to concerned citizens over the years, this vital resource remains unavailable.

The swift response of Tim, Henry, and Kingdry highlights the community’s resilience and dedication, but it also brings to light the gaps in emergency preparedness that could be addressed with better equipment and support.

A dedicated marine vessel would significantly enhance the efficiency and safety of rescue operations, ensuring that responses to such emergencies are even more effective.

Ed Forbes
Concerned Citizen

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Invest TCI Opens New Office in Grand Turk

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PRESS RELEASE

 

Providenciales, Turks and Caicos Islands – July 11th, 2024—Invest Turks and Caicos Islands (Invest TCI) proudly announces the launch of its new office in Grand Turk, located at the Digicel Building on Old Airport Road. The grand opening of the new location occurred on Friday, July 5th, 2024, under the theme “Empowering Enterprises in the Capital.”

The establishment of the new office marks a significant milestone in Invest TCI’s growth strategy. The primary objective of the expansion is to provide enhanced services and support to the business community in Grand Turk. By increasing operational capacity, Invest TCI aims to facilitate sustained growth and success for enterprises within the country.  Beyond economic advancement, this initiative is set to yield substantial community benefits, including the creation of employment opportunities.

The grand opening ceremony attracted a diverse range of attendees, including recipients of the Micro Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) programme, members of the business community, government officials, and Invest TCI staff. The event was moderated by Mr. Keno Forbes, Vice President of Investor Services. Special remarks were delivered by the Premier, Hon. Charles Washington Misick, who congratulated the InvestTCI team on their hard work and encouraged the community to take advantage of the benefits offered by the new office. He reiterated the government’s commitment to creating a supportive environment for businesses in the Turks and Caicos Islands.

Additional remarks were provided by Invest TCI Chairperson, Ms. Cindy Ewing; Business Advisor, Ms. Lashena Simmons; Director of the Business Support Unit, Mrs. Anissa Adderley; and Vice President of SME, Ms. Alexa Cooper. Their contributions highlighted the collaborative effort and dedication that have driven the success of Invest TCI initiatives.

Expressing her enthusiasm for the new office, Invest TCI CEO, Mrs. Angela Musgrove, stated, “Our vision is clear and compelling: to further empower Invest Turks and Caicos Islands, the agency offers incentives and support that enable more efficient and innovative practices. We are committed to helping businesses thrive, and in doing so, we are helping our entire community.”

Invest TCI recognizes the integral role that Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises play in the economic and social development of the Turks and Caicos Islands. Through its Business Support Unit, the agency provides comprehensive support services to startups and existing entrepreneurs, ensuring they have the tools and resources to succeed.

The grand opening of the new office in Grand Turk represents a significant step forward in Invest TCI’s mission to support and empower businesses across the islands. The agency looks forward to fostering economic growth and development and ensuring a prosperous future for all.

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LAST AMERICAN TOURIST SENTENCED TO A FINE OF $1500.00 OR SIX MONTHS IMPRISONMENT IN DEFAULT, SHE’S ALSO SENTENCED TO 23 WEEKS IMPRISONMENT SUSPENDED FOR ONE YEAR

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(Thursday, July 11th, 2024) Turk and Caicos Islands – The last of five American tourists arrested in the Turks and Caicos Islands (TCI) for being in unlawful possession of  ammunition could finally leave the TCI today, Thursday, July 11th, 2024.

Sharitta Grier 46 pleaded guilty on 25th June to having two rounds of.38 ammunition in her bags, at the Howard Hamilton International Airport in Providenciales on Monday 13th May, 2024, when leaving the Turks and Caicos Islands after a surprised Mother’s Day vacation trip, from her daughters.

Her Ladyship The Hon. Ms. Tanya Lobban-Jackson agreed with senior defense counsel, Ms. Sheena Mair of F-Chambers that there are exceptional circumstancés in Grier’s case, by this, the court departed from the mandatory minimum sentence of twelve years imprisonment and ordered a lighter sentence of $1500.00 or Six months imprisonment if fine is not paid. She’s also sentenced to 23 weeks imprisonment suspended for one year.

Holding for the office of the Director of Public Prosecution via link was Dr. Angela Terry Brooks, deputy director of the DPP’S office.

The prosecution office did oppose exceptional circumstances and invited the court to impose the mandatory minimum sentence of twelve years imprisonment.

A more detailed court report will follow.

Wilkie Arthur
Court Correspondent
Eagle Legal News Media

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