In a recent interview, Deputy Premier and Minister for Education Dr. Hon. Natalio Wheatley revealed his plans to propose a change in legislation to the Cabinet of the Virgin Islands to allow for three feet distancing instead of six feet, with hopes of maybe reopening schools to full in class sessions for the Trinity Term.
This announcement comes on the heels of the one-year anniversary of the initial closure of schools in the Virgin Islands
as a result of the Coronavirus
pandemic. Although this is his desire, he stated that there is no surety this will be approved by cabinet. Saying, “What we want to do is to go to cabinet and reduce the distancing in the classroom from six feet to three feet. The World Health Organization three feet to six feet in the classrooms. So we would still be within WHO rules and regulations. That three feet will allow most students to be able to return to the classroom. I can’t preempt cabinet, but I am hopeful that the cabinet paper will be ready to go to cabinet by next week and it is my hope that cabinet would decide to have the distancing reduced for the trinity term.”
Additionally, the Minister noted that there is a huge challenge in the infrastructure particularly at the Elmore Stoutt junior high school where students and teachers do not have access to furniture, forcing school officials to use picnic tables. This is not only uncomfortable but does not allow for social distancing practices in the present pandemic. He said,
“There might be some persons out there in the community who may not understand what is happening with furniture. The Government of the Virgin Islands
procured through the Caribbean Development Bank furniture even before I was elected that has been on the table. Really The Caribbean Development Bank they have a great help to us but they have very stringent requirements and they have a very long process. We are moving forward with a supplier of furniture and I hope that we will have our furniture soon but in the meantime we have had to procure furniture in the interim.”