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Schools across Solomon Islands have been ordered to close as of Monday in the face of the imminent threat the coronavirus poses to the nation.
Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Education and Human Resources Development (MEHRD) Dr Franco Rodie issued the directive, Monday.
This came after the ministry earlier ordered the closure of schools in Honiara and Guadalcanal as precautionary measures.
After the government declared a state of emergency for the country last week, Rodie said it’s time for all schools to close and teachers and students to return home.
“The Senior Management Team (within the ministry) and I have decided that the remaining schools which are still open must close by today Monday 30 March 2020,” Rodie said.
“We are aware that two provinces have already closed their schools as of Thursday 22 March last week after receiving directives from their respective Education Authorities and Provincial Governments,” he added.
In his national address to the nation last week, Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare said our focus now should be in protecting the country from the entrance of this serious threat to our national security and secondly to control the spread of the virus if it slipped through.
Rodie said in response schools in Honiara and Guadalcanal were closed and city residents are repatriating home to their provinces in unprecedented numbers at this time of the year.
“The repatriation is causing anxiety, panic, confusion amongst schools and Education Authorities.
“I hereby declare that all remaining schools and early childhood centres for the rest of the country must close as of today, Monday 30 March 2020.
“This decision is taken as a precautionary measure to protect our people and country from the threat of COVID-19 and is in accordance with the Education Act (1978) section 20.
“All students should return to their villages or homes and remain with their parents or guardians until further advice is received from the Ministry of Education and Human Resource Development.
“Teachers are advised to return to their homes if they feel that where they are residing now is not safe.
“They must seek, as advised by the prime minister, to use the transports available to their home constituents to travel to their villages or homes.
“The teachers should also seek support from their school principal.
“Given the current situation with COVID-19 and the threat it poses on our people and country, the ministry’s Senior Management Team has again reviewed the school calendar and made a decision that all schools will reopen on Monday 27 April 2020.
“We will inform or advise all Education Authorities, school principals, students and parents a week before 27 April 2020, should the COVID-19 situation in the country change.”
Rodie said Education Authorities, school principals, students, and parents are reminded to take simple steps during this unprecedented time to keep yourselves and your community healthy:
*Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds especially after going to the bathroom, before eating and after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing.
*Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
*Clean frequently touched surfaces and objects daily.
* If you think you may have symptoms of the coronavirus, please call your healthcare provider or nearest clinic and seek help.
“Again let me appeal to you all not to panic.
“Be calm and do the right thing.
“Do not listen to false rumours or misinformation or even get confused about what to do.
“My ministry will continue to advise you on the steps you should take to protect our students, teachers and their families as well as the wider community,” he said.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare led government acknowledges the response that the public has demonstrated in abiding and respecting the measures amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.
Sogavare said that when the public cooperates it gives the government comfort and confidence to see the people responding positively.
“We are one of the few countries left in the world that has no confirmed case of COVID-19.
“This is a testament to good work that our officers and people are doing,” he expressed.
Sogavare also applauded the front liner officers who are doing their best to protect the country.
“On behalf of the government and people of Solomon Islands I wish to convey our deepest gratitude and respect,” he added.
He also thanked their families for providing much-needed encouragement and support to the nation’s front line officers.
“And to all those who are working behind the scene your efforts have not gone unnoticed, my appreciation to you as well,” Sogavare said.
He further urged the nation that if there is any fight that needs to be fought together, it is this fight against COVID-19.
“We are all in together let us all work and cooperate together to fight against our common enemy COVID-19,” Sogavare said.
SOURCE: SOLOMON STAR/ PACNEWS
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