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I believe that the government’s fixation on scoring political points has clouded their thought process and judgement, while exposing their policies and measures for what they are #politicalgimmicks.
It is quite obvious that this push to reopen physical school is not founded in any sound analysis of our COVID-19 situation, but rather a direct fulfillment of a political gimmick dubbed as “Because We Care.” Don’t get me wrong, that money could have gone into the COVID cash grant, giving citizens more than $25,000 per household. However, in their bid to say “promise delivered” on the reintroduction of public school cash grants, schools must now be reopened physically lest the program be seen for what it is: a political gimmick. Just think about how it would look after giving out all that money to assist parents with uniform and school supplies and there is no school to go to.
Are we seriously asking parents to send their children to school after receiving one jab of the COVID-19 vaccine just a week before school reopens knowing fully well it takes 28 days or longer to recieve the second jab and some 14 days after to be deemed fully vaccinated? We must also note that reports have shown that persons died from Covid-19 after receiving just one jab and we have had a few such cases locally.
April to August 2021 has been our deadliest months and the Government has and continues to place emphasis on vaccination as its main or seemingly only weapon in the fight against the coronavirus. Don’t get me wrong, vaccines have a role to play in this, but a simple look at what is currently happening throughout the world shows that much more is required.
Israel, as an example, was one of the countries with the highest percentage of vaccinated people. There was but a handful of positive cases and a rapid decline of new cases. Then suddenly things went in reverse. The mistake that the citizens of Israel made was believing that having over 90% of their adult population being fully vaccinated was a passport to open up their bars, businesses and all other forms of physical socializing platforms while compromising or totally disregarding their once strict Covid- 19 protocols. As a result of that, Israel is now experiencing record Covid numbers daily, with an average death rate of 18 deaths per day, with over 500 deaths in August. It’s gotten so bad that booster shots are now being offered to persons 12 and older. Why did this happen? Israel, like many others, placed vaccination as its main weapon in the fight against coronavirus, failing to invest in educating and shaping the habits and attitudes of the population towards the best practices even after being vaccinated. The focus on vaccination has given a false sense of comfort during this pandemic, leading persons to believe that it is ok to relax and go back to some level of normalcy. The CDC at one point told Americans who were fully vaccinated that it was ok to be out in the public without mask and that didn’t go too well. Here in Guyana we treat those vaccinated like they are endangered species that need to be protected from the dangerous unvaccinated predator who we hope would take the vaccine through forced measures.
The fact is: while we push vaccination as a main weapon in the fight against the coronavirus we must pay similar attention to other measures that will aid the vaccination drive and keep people safe before and after being.
The reopening of physical school amidst the increase in breakthrough infections worlwide and the more aggressive and fast spreading Delta variant is a risk that should not be contemplated. We are putting our students at serious risk especially since many of them will need to access public transportation to get to and from school. The sad reality is most of the bus drivers and conductors do not ensure passengers wear a mask.
Have we considered children wearing the same mask all day? The World Health Organization back in March 2020 made reference a study which spoke to the acceptability and tolerance of mask wearing. When the mask is no longer tolerated, there will be a tendency to touch it often with one’s hands, which increases the risk of contact contamination, and to reposition it on one’s face, which increases the risk of inhaling viral particles. In addition, when the mask is wet, its electrostatic properties decrease therefore it retains less particles, and its air permeability decreases making it less “breathable”. Hence in some countries, it is recommended that masks be changed after 4 hours of being worn (This does not mean, some types of mask cannot be worn for more that 4 hours)
The fact that the Government continues to fail in its bid to effectively enforce COVID-19 measures nation wide. I find it difficult to believe that our schools will be a safe space where COVID-19 guidelines are practiced continuously and our children will not be at serious risk. I will conclude by saying I do not agree with the position to reopen physical schools just yet .
Clayon F. Halley