Schools prepare to close in event of measles spread

Local schools have come up with a plan for campus closures in the event that the recently declared measles epidemic continues to spread

The Catholic Schools Director, Father Mikaele Tuimavave, said they started preparations ahead of the measles epidemic announcement by Ministry of Health on Wednesday.

He told the Samoa Observer that he has been following the stories regarding the virus closely and have been planning precautions for about three weeks.

"I have sent an email to all the Principals of all Catholic schools both in Upolu and Savaii to be cautious of the spread of the measles virus," he said.

"I'm sure they are taking note of that and a lot of them have been working together with some health clinics and medical people around to help counter the effects of measles."

He noted that preparing and staying cautious is a very important issue for schools. 

"Whenever it happens, whether children or teachers, then they will have to call school [operations] off or class off or let the [affected] be out of school until they have fully recovered," he said.

"I have also asked them that if there are any cases, they could inform me as soon as possible so I can ask the medical departments for some assistance."

Father Mikaele said so far there have been no reported cases in any of the 15 Catholic primaries and colleges, and about 13 early childhood schools.

"Hopefully, no news is good news," he said.

Loau Keneti Sio, Minister of Education Sports and Culture says they he has met with the Chief Executive Officer and have laid down plans on prevention measures in the Government schools.

Notices and advice have been given out to schools regrading precautionary measures and symptoms to watch out for. Once these symptoms are sighted they are required to take immediate action.

"School inspectors, Principals and teachers have been told to determine and keep an eye out for the virus, once symptoms are spotted and large numbers of children are affected, then we will have to shut down that school," he said.

"Exams can wait, they can do it next year."

"Mainly the ages of children affected are in the younger grades and age groups. But the teachers will be keeping their eye out for the children and if anything comes up they will have no choice but to close down."

Loau also said, so far, there have been no reports of any children in schools affected.

Cabinet met Thursday morning to lay down plans for the epidemic.

The M.O.H. declared a measles epidemic after results from samples sent to Australia for urgent testing returned with seven confirmed cases.

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