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10% of VI public school student population will undergo a monthly Covid-19 PCR test

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The Department of Education, as part of its monitoring of the student body, will require parents to sign a single parental consent form for the random monthly Covid-19 tests which will begin in December.

“From December 2021, 10% of the student body will be randomly tested for Covid-19 as part of a surveillance test,” Victor Somme III, DOE deputy commissioner, said on Monday at a conference hurry.

Speaking of testing and vaccination for college students like the Virgin Islands prepare for the reopening of public schools in person in January 2022, Mr Somme said his office had worked tirelessly with school nurses since April 2021 on student testing for Covid-19.

Students, he said, will have to undergo both antigen testing and PCR through the school system and those who wish not to use the school’s service will need to present a negative PCR from a medical facility. approved.

The department has successfully partnered with the Department of Health and Infinity Empowering – a subcontractor to the U.S. Department of Health to train school nurses to test students, according to Somme. The result of the antigen test will be known within 15 minutes and will not require laboratory analysis like PCR.

“It will only be used on students who are showing symptoms of Covid-19,” said Mr Somme, who highlighted some of the symptoms. “Students with symptoms of Covid-19 are quarantined in isolation at their school until the school nurse can test the student if parental consent had been previously granted,” he said .

These symptoms include, but are not limited to, fever or chills, cough, nasal congestion or runny nose, loss of taste or smell, shortness of breath or difficulty in breathing, diarrhea or vomiting, upset stomach, fatigue, headache, muscle or body pain, and poor appetite.

The other type of test performed by school nurses is PCR. Training and testing supplies for PCR testing are provided free of charge to the Department of Education and the Government of the Virgin Islands by Infinity Empowering.

“PCR tests are used only to survey the student body and required for the opening of schools by the Ministry of Health. It is highly recommended by the United States [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention]”said the deputy commissioner, who explained that the PCR tests were tested in a school in Saint-Thomas and one in Sainte-Croix.

“The results of the completed tests are sent by mail to Infinity Empowering or by SMS or online … Performing surveillance tests allows the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Health to find additional contacts and try to follow up. trends in schools and communities, ”he said.

Mr Somme further revealed that the vaccination rate in the district of St Thomas / St John for Department of Education employees now stands at 49.81%. In the Sainte-Croix district, it is 46.86%. Total DOE employees nationwide stood at 48.31% on Monday.

“This analysis represents an increase in employee vaccination of 6.2% in September 2021,” said Somme, who announced that a vaccination campaign in June involving various partners contributed to the notable increase.

The DOE will soon be launching a new vaccination campaign and the focus will be on students aged 12 to 18. Despite the increase in immunization among education workers, protocols such as face masks are now part of the school uniform and must be worn at school, at school events and on school buses.

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