No need to close schools – Manickchand on monkeypox

Education Minister Priya Manickchand addressing students [File Photo]

Following the detection of the first case of monkeypox in Guyana, Education Minister Priya Manickchand has made it clear that there is no need to close schools.

Speaking with reporters today, Minister Manickchand contended that the total shutdown of schools is not a move that the PPP/C administration will ever want to embark upon again.

“We learnt from Covid-19 that schools must be the last place to close and the first place to open because too much gets lost…when schools close,” the Minister expressed.

In addition to the significant learning loss experienced by children, she explained that many pupils contended with malnourishment during the closure of schools as a result of school feed programmes being halted amid the novel coronavirus pandemic.

In addition, she contended that many children suffered abuse in various forms during this period.

“The damage is way too big when we close schools. We don’t have any intention of ever closing schools again. Whether circumstances in the world will dictate that, is something that we will have to watch and see. What I do know is that we’re in a better place to respond to school closures now,” Minister Manickchand posited.

“We expect to open all our schools as normal for September 5,” she added.

According to the Education Minister, all schools across the country as properly equipped to keep stakeholders safe.

“We have for the first time in the country, all schools with handwashing facilities, running water, soap and other facilities to keep ourselves clean and sanitised,” she reasoned, noting that measures are also in place to keep students properly distanced in the learning environment.

Health Minister Dr Frank Anthony has said that the country does not anticipate many cases of monkeypox on local shores.

“Monkeypox is relatively rare, we only have one case now in Guyana, the patient is very stable, and in the next 14 days, that patient should be discharged, once everything goes well. So, we don’t expect a lot of cases,” he had expressed.

On Monday, it was announced that a 57-year-old man from Region Four (Demerara-Mahaica) tested positive for monkeypox; he is currently isolated at the Infectious Diseases Hospital.