A Red Bay Primary School student has tested positive for COVID-19 and is symptomatic, according to Government Information Services.
The child – who is a Year 2 student – and the child’s family, are in isolation and the Public Health Department has begun the process of contact tracing.
The department attended Red Bay Primary School today to test the entire class, relevant staff and families. That process is expected to expand more widely, as full contact tracing continues.
More results from Red Bay Primary are expected later today and will guide further decisions with respect to the school and the wider community, GIS said.
There will be a government press briefing at 4pm today to address the issue.
Education officials said the child has not been at the school since Friday, 2 Oct.
An initial statement issued by GIS said the child had been hospitalised, but a release shortly afterwards clarified that this was not the case and the child is not in hospital.
Public Health will directly contact those who may have potentially been exposed, GIS said.
Parents of Year 2 students, and their children, were tested at the school by Public Health staff.
A number of parents told the Cayman Compass that they and their family had been told to self-isolate until they received their results.
Some said they had been rattled by the experience of receiving phone calls or messages to come to the school to pick up their children because of the positive COVID result, and said even if it reopens on Monday, they did not intend to send their children back to school then.
Elroy Bryan, senior school improvement officer with the Department of Education Services, speaking to reporters outside Red Bay Primary on Friday afternoon, said the school had been implementing a ‘bubble’ environment within the school premises, so individual classes and years were not intermingling freely.
Mark Ray, head of business services at the DES, said the school had undergone ‘cleaning protocols’ several times since the child had last been at the school. Red Bay Primary, he pointed out, like all other schools on island, had been closed on Monday and Tuesday because of Hurricane Delta.
Ministry of Education appeals for calm
In a press release issued by the Ministry of Education shortly before 3pm this afternoon, Acting Director of Education Services Tammy Banks-DaCosta appealed for calm.
She said, “Since the reopening of schools, all year groups were placed in containment bubbles as a safety measure. Parents of all the students in the affected year group bubble have been contacted to come to the school. Each student along with their household members will be tested and will all be required to isolate in their homes until they receive clearance from the Public Health Authorities.”
She added, “We understand any concerns parents may have about their child and family at this time and would like everyone to know that we care and are proactively managing the situation with the entire school body’s health, wellness and safety as our top priority. We encourage parents to remain calm at this time.”
In an audio statement issued later, Banks-DaCosta said any parents of Year 2 students, who have not done so already, should go to the school this afternoon to be tested and to collect their children.
She added that there is no need for parents to go to the Health Services Authority directly for testing if their child is another grade level at Red Bay Primary. “If there are any additional requirements for testing, parents will be notified and advised what to do next,” she said.
The HSA is prepared to set up additional testing capacity if required by Public Health, she said.
GIS reminded other members of the public that anyone concerned about their health can make their own appointments for testing via the Health Services Authority website, www.hsa.ky.