News Release: HAMILTON, Bermuda – On Friday, the Ministry of Education released an update made by the Emergency Education Measures Committee (EEMC) on the new COVID-19 testing protocols for schools.

The new protocol outlines that immediately, the bubble that any positive student is a part of, defined as their close contacts, are ordered to quarantine and get tested via the nasal-pharyngeal or oral swab. Additionally, the rest of the students and staff at the school, defined as casual contacts, will be tested using the Saliva Testing method within a day of the initial notification.

The Minister of Education, Diallo Rabain advises: “Bermuda, in light of the recent rise in positive COVID-19 cases on the island, it is essential to provide confidence to the public that the schools’ COVID Protocols are working as designed.”

“We are pleased to report that Whitney Institute was tested on Thursday, and Paget Primary was tested on Friday, with all results returning negative. On Friday all of Northlands Primary was tested, and today, all of Purvis Primary was tested; however, those results are presently unknown.”

Minister Rabain added: “Understandably, many people are asking about the possibility of schools reverting to remote learning as we did back in December.  Unfortunately, in December, due to so many schools in quarantine, there was not enough staff to open schools. Thankfully, since then, our COVID Protocols have been refined and the new testing regime of saliva testing the entire school as casual contacts, as demonstrated by the testing results above, has proven to be very effective and shows that the bubble protocols, when adhered to, are effective. Additionally, we can quickly isolate a class or classes and still have a school operate while those bubbles are quarantined and learning by remote.”

Minister Rabain clarified: “The decision to move to remote learning is not to be made lightly as the massive disruption to students’ learning, and their parents’ livelihood, must be considered. Although this decision is not to be made lightly, we are prepared to make the decision if the Department of Health deems it necessary for the safety of our country.

“Bermuda, we understand that there are many unofficial updates circulated on social media; however, we must remind you that we react as soon as the official notification comes from the Department of Health. We need to collectively respect that there are processes in place that need to be strictly adhered to in order to ensure safety for all.”

Minister Rabain concluded: “We want to assure the public that we are prepared and the extra layer of testing introduced has proven to be successful.  We are committed to our educators’ and students’ health and safety and will not do anything to put them in harm’s way. We are very much aware of the alarm a positive case causes, but we are also confident in the Department of Health and the way they have handled the pandemic to date. We have to allow them to do their job and base our decisions balanced on what is best for our student’s learning and our island’s health and safety.

“Bermuda, I remind you that that the vulnerable must be protected, and that means we must all be considerate of how exposure to COVID affects students, schools, teachers, parents, and the larger community. We must work together – get tested regularly, maintain your bubbles, wear your mask correctly; wash your hands regularly, and get immunised when you can.”