Connect with us

News

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

Published

on

#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.

News

Dog Tales to rescue 500 dogs from the Turks and Caicos

Published

on

By Dana Malcolm

Staff Writer

 

#TurksandCaicos, June 25, 2022 – Stray dogs in the Turks and Caicos will be getting a new lease on life in the coming months as Dog Tales Rescue will be coming to the islands. Up to 500 stray Dogs will be recovered from Grand Turk and flown to Canada in a bid to control the dog population and give the existing strays better lives. The visit has been approved by the Turks and Caicos Islands government who revealed the project in a cabinet meeting on May 31st.

Dog Tales rescue is a Canadian-based rescue mostly focusing on dogs, cats, and horses. The sanctuary is massive, sitting on over 50 acres of land. It was started in 2014 by husband and wife duo Rob and Danielle Eden-Scheinberg.  The animals at Dog Tales Rescue get the 5-star treatment (as they should!) while they wait to be adopted into their forever homes.  The rescue provides a space for neglected and abused dogs to heal with resources including kilometers of walking trails, therapy pools, a grooming spa, and medical care if needed.  Dog Tales does not put dogs down, those who are not adopted immediately remain with the sanctuary permanently.  Since 2014 more than 2000 dogs have passed through the sanctuary.

Rather than kennels the dogs at Dog Tale have rooms that they share or occupy alone and the sanctuary really jazzes up the spaces making them as luxurious as possible.  The volunteers at the sanctuary also actively use social media to campaign for potential adoptees by doing photoshoots to entice families to take the chance to adopt animals. Soon strays from the Turks and Caicos will be in that number.  You can see Dog Tales’ most recent photoshoot here.

Dog Tales even had a TV show back in 2018 that lasted for 2 seasons!

The TCIG says they will provide “logistical and regulatory support” for the program but Dog Tales will be funding the recovery and everything else on their own. You can donate to Dog Tales here

Continue Reading

Health

Moderna & Pfizer approved for toddlers in US

Published

on

By Dana Malcolm

Staff Writer

 

#USA, June 25, 2022 – Toddlers can now be vaccinated with either Moderna or Pfizer in the United States following the US Food and Drug Administration’s Advisory Committee vote to authorize the jabs for the youngest humans.

Some 2.5 million vaccines were ordered for these youngsters from Pfizer and 1.3 million are on order from Moderna.

The authorization committee voted unanimously on both vaccines and it comes as a relief to millions of parents who opted to keep their children away from family gatherings, even school

The lowest age a US resident can now get vaccinated is 6 months, Pfizer says their shot is ready for children six months to four years old and Moderna goes one year higher at 6 months to 5 years.  Both Pfizer and Moderna say the toddlers will need boosters in the future.

As of June 2, there have been 442 children between the ages of 0-4 years old who have died as a result of Covid-19 in the United States.

Continue Reading

Education

TCI Agriculture launches Plant Clinic

Published

on

By Dana Malcolm

Staff Writer

 

#TurksandCaicos, June 25, 2022 – These days anything can be online, even a plant clinic! The Turks and Caicos Islands Department of Agriculture wants to help budding and experienced farmers with any plant issues they may have and their new Online Plant Clinic is their solution to help as many Islanders as possible.

Launched on Thursday, June 16 the clinic will operate through Facebook. Individuals with sick plants or pest issues will be required to take a photo of the issue and upload that photo to the department of Agriculture’s Facebook page.

Answers to issues will be given once a month, on every third Thursday, via a public video so all Islanders can have access. The launch was attended by Chief Plant Protection Officer-CPPO Roneta Huntley Thomas, Director of Agriculture Wilhelmina Kissoonsingh, Minister of Agriculture Josephine Connolly, and Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Agriculture Mrs. Cheryl Ann Jones.

Connolly urged residents to “grow your own food and grow TCI.”

Attendees of the launch were allowed to participate in games trying to identify different diseases for a chance at prizes. Residents can now immediately start sending in their photos on the Facebook page.

Continue Reading

FIND US ON FACEBOOK

TRENDING