(CMC) – Antigua and Barbuda is the latest Caribbean Community (Caricom) country to have students returning to their classrooms after a two-year absence due to COVID-19.
Throughout the pandemic, which has killed 135 and infected 7,366 persons in the country,
students have had to either undertake classes through online portals or shift systems so as to ensure that the social distancing policies put in place to curb the spread of the virus are adhered to.
Cabinet announced last Thursday that all schools would resume in-class teaching on Monday and facemasks would no longer be required.
“However, face masks ought to be worn by the security personnel, the administrators and those who will likely have contact with a large number of students and other personnel,” according to the statement issued following the weekly Cabinet meeting.
“These workers are encouraged to wear face masks. Sanitising and temperature checks are continued requirements. Social distancing cannot be achieved with full face-to-face learning.”
But education officials are urging children and teachers alike to continue to wear masks and to continue to follow the policies aimed at preventing the spread of the virus.
“I don’t want to accept that no masks will be required,” Director of Education Clare Browne said, noting that “Cabinet talked about making masks optional but the Ministry of Education is strongly encouraging all students and anyone who operates in schools, particularly indoors, to continue to wear them.”
From March 16, no one will be mandated to wear facemasks in Antigua and Barbuda, although health chiefs are advising those who work indoors, such as in offices, shops, banks, churches, schools, bars and clubs, to wear them as protection. Residents are also urged to wear masks outside in places where there are likely to be crowds.