Worried parents await coronavirus update
A frenzy of social media posts on Thursday morning about Samoa’s first positive case of coronavirus caused many parents to pull their children out of school as panic and uncertainty spread.
At schools where students often arrive as early as 7am, many parents who were unsure about what was happening and took their children back home with them ahead of the official Government announcement at 8.30 am.
Principal of Robert Louis Stevenson School, Fiaapia Devoe, said many parents were not sure about what was going on and in the absence of an official word from the authorities, they took matters into their own hands.
“While waiting for information from the Government after hearing on the radio that there’s possibly a positive case, parents started picking up their children,” she said.
“Some parents had just arrived (to drop off their children to school). It wasn’t long until others came running back, panicking saying there’s a positive case and all those parents who had just arrived retreated and went back home with their children.”
Ms. Devoe said the parents could not be blamed for their reaction.
“Parents are like that,” she said. “They were uncertain and worried and some parents who already left their children in the morning came back and fetched their kids from school which was okay with me because parents do worry.”
And the absence of an official announcement until later in the morning did not help.
“We take it very seriously and everybody should,” she said about the reports of Samoa’s first COVID19 case. We push for the students to be brought to school for their studies but if it’s not safe then it’s not safe and they should stay home.”
The Principal added that they were prepared to close the school, but were waiting for an official announcement from the Government. She said they were listening to the directive from the Government because “they have the specialists.”
“They know what they’re doing and we don’t want to listen to the odd pod from around complaining but if the Government says schools will be closed then we close.”
According to the Principal, only half of the school's pupils turned up on Thursday.
All Government and non-governmental schools are in their seventh week of term 4 , with three more to go.
Just before the Cabinet’s emergency meeting on Thursday, the Ministry of Education Sports and Culture (M.E.S.C) in a public notice advised all schools and parents to remain calm and keep social distancing and other preventative measures to stress.
It was also advised that all schools are to remain open but prevention measures were strictly encouraged.
After a Cabinet meeting on Thursday afternoon, all schools were told to remain open until more information comes through on Samoa’s first positive case.