School closes as virus precaution

A school is suspending classes in response to reports of Samoa’s first suspected case of the coronavirus COVID-19.

The Leamosa Savavau School will close on Friday and send its 102 home while the school’s administration awaits the test results of Samoa’s first suspected coronavirus case.

School Principal Fitimaula Donna Le Tagaloa told Samoa Observer that the 10-20 working days – which the Ministry of Health (MOH) advised would be the turnaround time for the test results to be processed – is too long and it would be safer that the children are at home when the results come back.

“We know that it's not really confirmed yet but what worries us is the time period that we’re waiting for the test results,” she said. “I think 10 to 20 days is a bit too long as a principal and as a person who looks after the children. It’s more responsible to close the school and wait until we get the results back and then we’ll be up and running again.”

Fitimaula said the board and management of the school as well as parents have agreed for classes to be suspended and the school to close while the test results are pending.

Students have been provided with extra exercises and stationery to work from home with the guidance of their parents. 

And if the test results take longer, the school management will look at other options including online classes for the students.

The temporary closure is also a good opportunity to trial alternative arrangements, should anything happen down the line, according to Fitimaula. 

“It depends on what you think education is because I think the problem is we have more time to perhaps look at their work with their parents and establish what they don’t understand and because it’s early days yet, as it’s the beginning of the year, we are hoping and praying that the Lord’s intervention will help us,” she added. 

“We had the measles last year and it did affect the students’ performance plus the games, so there have been different factors so we’re trying really hard as teachers to preach the gap but there will be a gap realistically speaking.”

Last year Leamosa was also one of the first schools in Samoa to close due to the measles outbreak. However, at that time the students’ assessments and examinations were already done.

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