Julian Robinson calls for COVID testing in schools as classes resumeSunday, December 05, 2021
KINGSTON, Jamaica — The Member of Parliament for St Andrew South East, the People’s National Party’s Julian Robinson has called for COVID-19 testing to be conducted in schools in light of the reopening of the institutions for face-to-face classes.
“What is going to happen without testing in the schools, when the children get sick, the parents can’t afford the significant fees to privately test them, they’re going to keep sending them to school because they don’t have, either the support at home to keep them at home so we’re going to have sick children continue to go to school,” said Robinson.
He made the remarks while speaking recently in the House of Representatives.
Robinson told his colleagues that the government may want to consider the antigen test which is cheaper than the gold standard PCR test which is more reliable.
“But as we move to reopen the schools we must have some capacity, particularly in larger schools [to conducting testing],” Robinson said.
The opposition MP pointed to Excelsior High School in his constituency which has over 2,200 students enrolled.
“You’re bound to have sick children infecting others and right now it is too difficult, it is too expensive for persons to get tested,” he said.
In his response to the suggestion, the Minister of Health and Wellness, Dr Christopher Tufton, said “There’s no difference of opinion there. The reality is that the school population is going to be a point of vulnerability, not so much to be totally frank, for the students who could weather the storm so to speak in terms of the virus because of their stronger immune systems, but more so for those they take it home to — their parents and grandparents and we still have a large unvaccinated population among that older age cohort,” Tufton noted.
The minister said that it was for this reason why the ministry has pursued a dual strategy of promoting vaccination among the older population while offering protection to young people to get face-to-face classes going.
Tufton assured that testing will be available based on an assessment of conditions or symptoms. He said he would be prepared to ask for some amount of random testing to be done as part of just sampling a population.
“I think that can be easily organised because contrary to popular opinion…the government provides testing for COV ID-19,” Tufton said.
He said while an individual cannot request the test since it is given based on a doctor’s assessment, as it relates to schools, where a child displays the slightest symptom, they will be automatically tested and a conclusion drawn in order to protect the rest of the school population.