Coronavirus scare leads to school closure

The Saint Peter’s Chanel Community School closed early Tuesday, amid a COVID-19 scare following the detection of the disease on a ship in American Samoa previously docked in Apia. 

The primary school at Moamoa asked parents to pick up their children, after a child at the was reportedly connected via family to a frontline dock worker who had worked clearing cargo from the Fesco Askold.

Principal of St Peter’s Chanel School, Tepora Tu’I, emailed parents on Tuesday advising families to collect their children while informing them of the news.

“It has been confirmed a student in Year 1 has been in direct contact with a family member who worked in clearing cargo from the Fesco Askold Ship which has confirmed Covid-19 cases in Pago,” the email stated.

“At this stage we are waiting for the Government announcement as contact tracing is now in place.”

Parents were advised to pick up their children from school and to wait for updates as to when children can return.

Samoa Observer visited the school seeking comment from the principal and staff but they declined.

At around 1pm on Tuesday, parents could be seen driving up to the school to pick up their children.

A parent, Tauiliili Ah Ki Reupena of Moamoa, has three children attending the community school.

He said he was oblivious to what was going on until his wife called and asked him to pick up their children before the usual school finishing time.

“She called me and I just went and picked them up without knowing what was going on,” he said.

According to Tauiliili, the students will not return to school until further notice from the staff and school management, and he agreed with the decision to keep the school closed.

“We only urge the public to keep their prayers, we won’t be able to anything anymore (if there is a confirmed case) but praying will help us through for sure,” he said.

Another parent, who did not want to be identified, also supported the school’s decision to close.

“I don’t know either because they (just) called for us to pick up our children away from the school saying there was a kid that’s suspected but it’s not confirmed yet,” she said.

“I think they made a good move of getting rid of the kids. We’ll wait until another (update) if that kid has been brought to the hospital but we probably won’t come to school tomorrow until (that case has been sorted thoroughly).”

The ship, now anchored in waters outside of Pago Pago, reported three positive COVID-19 cases following tests by American Samoa health officials.

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