Schools asked to drop prize-giving ceremonies, graduations

All schools have been asked to drop prize-giving ceremonies and graduations, in order to reduce the risks of measles being spread in public gatherings.

The Ministry of Health (M.O.H.) put out a public notice on Wednesday asking that school committees, school boards, teachers, parents and communities support its national efforts to control the spread of measles.

“It is also advised that all schools (pre-school, primary and secondary levels) avoid end of year prize giving and graduations to restrict mass gatherings and going to public places,” the public notice reads.

Vaimea Primary School Principal, Tonu’u Fuamoli Amituanai Misi, lamented the cancellation of the prize-giving ceremonies in an interview with the Samoa Observer but acknowledged that it was due to the measles outbreak.

“But sadly that is not going to happen to some of our levels this year in Vaimea Primary Schools,” she said.

Mrs. Amituanai said when the school management heard of the measles epidemic, they knew classes will be cancelled so they brought forward their plans. 

The school’s Year 1-7 students will not attend classes except for the Year 8 pupils who will sit for their exams and have their top students presented with prizes.

“Our level eight we don’t want them to leave without saying goodbye and not thanking them for spending eight years in Vaimea Primary School,” she added. “When the outbreak of measles started we knew that schools will be shut down so we move our plans forward, so we can cater for the exam and have a good prize giving for our Year 8.”

For Vaimoso Primary School Principal, Aliimalomanu Tauai Peniamina, end-of-year prize-giving ceremonies are culminations of a successful academic year and an event that parents always looked forward to. 

But he told this newspaper that he understands the seriousness of the situation with the measles outbreak, and the likelihood that only his Year 8 students will end the school year. 

“Well to me, if the prize giving will be only Year 8 that would be fine, because this is their last year and I want to shake their hands and farewell to them,” he said.

At the Vaitele Uta Primary School, getting students to sit their final exams is more important than the school’s prize-giving ceremony, according to Principal Ferila Masina Sua.

“Right now we are not preparing for any prize giving but we are doing our final exams which will be done next week and then school closes,” she said.

While Mrs. Sua agrees with her colleagues at the Vaimea and Vaimoso primary schools on the importance of prize-giving ceremonies, she said she is confident parents with children at all the schools will understand the seriousness of the measles outbreak and the need to be proactive and support the Ministry of Health. 

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