by Bobie-Lee Dixon

While TTUTA applauds and supports Government’s decision to close all schools in the country as a preventive measure to avoid the spread of Covid-19, its president Antonia De Freitas said fighting the spread must come down to a national community decision.

“Closure would help in a lot less children becoming affected, but as a national community, perhaps we need to look seriously at whether we do want life to continue as normal in other aspects and other spheres,” said De Freitas.

She pointed out in a bid to mitigate the spread of the virus, in parts of the world there have been complete shutdowns, and as a national community in Trinidad and Tobago, that has to be something to be considered. And the policymakers cannot stay silent on that fact for too long.

De Freitas was responding to Guardian Media’s question of the possible concerns now that may exist by parents who still have to go out to work and have no alternative arrangements for their children who will be out of school for the week.

She said while the closure would prevent the spread in that mass area (wherever schools are located), what of the situation now where children who cannot be left at home without supervision are placed.

De Freitas added that while she was certain the Government’s position to close schools would have been based on information coming from the experts at the Ministry of Health, and that was the recommendation in the first instance of the virus having reached our shores, TTUTA would urge that whilst the students are out as a precautionary measure, it should not be that students are anywhere besides at home, where they could possibly be exposed.

During a Parliament session yesterday, Prime Minister, Dr Keith Rowley who spoke publicly for the first time, since his return from Ghana, announced there would be the closure of all schools in the country for one week from March 16, 2020. During his announcement, Rowley said the decision was a preventive measure in the first instance to safeguard against the spread of the Covid-19 virus, which reached T&T on Thursday.

At 2.45 pm on March 12, 2020, T&T officially recorded its first confirmed coronavirus case, announced by Minister of Health Terrance Deyalsingh, during a press conference held at the Ministry’s headquarters on Park Street Port-of-Spain. The case, a 52-year-old businessman was said to have contracted the virus while on a trip to Switzerland. Covid-19’s arrival to T&T came one day after the World Health Organisation (WHO) announced the viral disease that has swept into at least 150 countries killing more than 4,000 people, to be officially a pandemic.