Minister for Education, Premila Kumar says they intend to resume face to face classes for Year 12 and 13 students as soon as the COVID-19 safety protocols are in place.
A meeting conducted between the Ministry of Education, Heritage and Arts and Health Minister, Doctor Ifereimi Waqainabete and Permanent Secretary for Health, Doctor James Fong, saw continued discussions on the possibility of reopening schools in a new normal, especially for the Years 12 and 13.
This new normal will include preparing schools that are poorly ventilated, training the teachers on the COVID safe protocols to operate safely, educating students on the protocols and encouraging all those who are affiliated with schools, to get vaccinated.
Kumar says while this is going to change how they operate within our schools, it is reassuring that they can now look forward to gradually reopening the schools particularly for the Years 12 and 13 later this year.
Kumar says the protocols also keep changing based on scientific research.
She says while we must learn from others, we must also find our own solutions suited to our local situation.
The Minister for Education, Heritage and Arts is also urging students above the age of 18 years to get vaccinated as the latest data shows that 26 percent of students are fully vaccinated while 30 percent have only had their first jab.
Of the 9,115 Year 13 students, 8,349 students are over 18 years of age and the remaining 766 students are 17 years old. Kumar says they are anticipating that more students will be fully vaccinated by the end of October.
She says the remaining 44 percent of eligible students who have not received their jabs are therefore, urged to get vaccinated for their own safety.
The Ministry of Health and Medical Services is planning to vaccinate students above the age of 16. This will further add to the protection of our students from the COVID-19 virus.
Minister for Education, Premila Kumar says when students return to school, they need to be protected and this means that along with the students and teachers, all ancillary staff, canteen operators and others who are associated with schools will also be required to be fully vaccinated for COVID-19.
Kumar says Heads of Schools must ensure that anyone visiting schools for any reason must be fully vaccinated.
The Regional Adviser, WHO South-East Asia Regional Office, Doctor Rajesh Mehta says that it is more likely for transmission to occur from adults to students so we must get all adults who visit schools to be vaccinated.
The Education Minister says all transport providers and corner shops that students frequently visit should also ensure that their staff are fully vaccinated.
Kumar says the safety and well-being of our students are paramount and the Ministry will continue to encourage everyone associated with schools to get fully vaccinated, not only for their safety and that of their families, but also for all children whom they will come into contact with.
She says this is not only the responsibility of one person or one group, but that of all Fijians.
Stay tuned for the latest news on our radio stations