There is a strong possibility that the mandatory mask mandate in schools may be lifted soon as public health officials announce that more “adjustments” to the COVID-19 protocols were on the way and deem the school environment as “safe”.
On Wednesday, during a media launch for the COVID-19 Vaccine Hesitancy Survey Report 2022 at the United Nations House, Marine Gardens, Hastings Christ Church, Minister of Health Ian Gooding-Edghill said that Government continued to analyse and assess the COVID-19 situation in Barbados, it would soon announce more changes to the health protocols.
“We have an Emergency Operations Committee and we have an epidemiologist and what we do is that we evaluate the information in that committee and recommendations are made. We have relaxed a number of the measures we had in place and we are also looking at further adjustments to be announced shortly,” he said.
Chief Medical Officer Dr The Most Honourable Kenneth George said that while parents were reluctant to allow their children to be vaccinated, schools were “safe” as the spread of the virus within the school environment was under control.
“The Barbados experience is that children have not been the drivers of COVID-19 and therefore we are of the firm belief that schools are safe. There will be fall-out occasionally but schools tend to be safe,” he said.“Two and a half years into the pandemic persons have the information and know the persons who are at risk are the elderly, people who are pregnant (and) people with NCDs (non-communicable diseases)”.
Barbados received its first batch of the paediatric Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for children ages five to 11 at the end of August.
The CMO said that since the medicine was subsequently rolled out uptake has been slow.
“There is a reluctance to take the COVID-19 pfizer vaccine for children.
“But on the flipside of that, children have not been the drivers of the pandemic and the Ministry of Health continues to have a surveillance system and we continue to monitor the schools. We believe we have that situation under control at the present time.”
Dr George added that Government would make an announcement about the mask mandate in schools at a later date.
“We have mask-wearing in the schools, we are examining the evidence with the view of making a pronouncement at another time.”
Acting Prime Minister Santia Bradshaw announced on September 22, during a press conference that wearing masks was optional.
However, she said masks must be worn on public transportation, in schools, medical facilities and in daycare institutions.
The Ministry of Education then announced that it would conduct a two-week review of the mandatory mask mandate in schools.
Barbados TODAY understands that to date, the stakeholders in the education sector have not yet met on the matter.
In an earlier interview, general secretary of the Barbados National Parent-Teacher Association Nicole Brathwaite said that parents wanted the mandate stopped.
“When the mask mandate was dropped several parents called for it to be removed in schools, so we just await instructions from the ministry,” she said.