With no coronavirus case, why are students still being kept from school?

More than a hundred people who had undergone mandatory quarantine after arriving in Samoa two weeks ago happily reunited with their families and friends last Friday. Hundreds, possibly thousands more people coming into Samoa from New Zealand will do the same during the coming weeks and months.

This is happening as border shutdowns and restrictions put in place by governments all over the world – including our very own in Samoa – to deal with the coronavirus crisis, are being lifted and eased.

At the height of the crisis, the extreme measures taken to address it were absolutely necessary.

We should never be complacent when it comes to safety and the protection of precious lives. With this happening so soon after the measles epidemic killed 83 people in Samoa last year, Samoa can never be too careful. And to the Government’s credit, Samoa today remains one of the few remaining countries in the world without the coronavirus.

But we cannot close our borders to the outside world forever. At some point in time, we will have to make some tough decisions in terms of easing the travel restrictions and the shutdowns to allow normality, if there is any such thing anymore, to return. The Government has already done that starting with the repatriation flights.

Inside Samoa, many of the restrictions have been eased. Nightclubs for instance have been allowed to reopen. Weddings, birthdays and other gatherings have also been given the green light with conditions. After churches were allowed to re-open with one service on Sunday several weeks ago, the Government has now given the okay for multiple services during Sunday.

Elsewhere other restrictions are slowly but surely being eased to allow life to return to normal. Which is why we find it absolutely ludicrous that schools continue to be subjected to limited days. How is it that churches, nightclubs, weddings and so forth are allowed to resume while students cannot return to a five-day school week?

What is the logic in this? What is the real reason behind the decision to continue to interrupt and prevent students from getting an education as they should be?

When these questions were put to the Minister of Education, Sports and Culture, Loau Keneti Sio, last week, he defended the decision to continue to limit the number of school days saying the Government would not jeopardise the safety of students.

 “If there will be a case, what will they (concerned parents) do?” Loau said. “Every decision is made for the well being of Samoan children so I don’t understand how some concerned parents are not looking at this side.”

Well let’s think about this very carefully.

With no case of coronavirus in Samoa, what is it that the Government is worried about? Of course we all care about the safety of students but that applies when there is a positive case. As of now, we don’t even have one suspected case. So how do students benefit from this decision to keep them home when there is no case to even worry about?

Interestingly, the Minister admitted that he understands why parents are anxious to get their kids back to school, with final exams fast approaching.

But he called for patience, reminding that the Government’s mantra is that it is better to be safe than sorry, saying a review of the S.O.E. orders from the National Emergency Operation Committee (N.E.O.C.) is coming up soon.

Whenever that is, we sure hope they would reconsider the decision on schools. Students and the education system in this country have already suffered so much damage from the countless lost days of learning. From the Pacific Games 2019, the measles crisis to the cyclone season up until now, students have missed so many days of learning.

Has anyone calculated how much impact this will have on the future of this country?

The scary thought is that all this is happening without a case of coronavirus. So what happens when we finally get a positive case? We need to take advantage of the fact that as of today, Samoa remains coronavirus-free. There is no guarantee that this will always be the case.

What do you think? Write and share your thoughts with us!

Have a wonderful Tuesday Samoa, God bless!











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