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CoronaVirus Causes Suspension of University Classes and Closure of Schools in Jamaica and Guyana

The University of the West Indies (UWI) Mona Campus has suspended classes and public schools across Jamaica have been closed for two weeks, in light of the spread of the novel Coronavirus (COVID-19). Similar measures have been taken in Guyana where one fatal COVID-19 case was recorded this week.

UWI classes have been suspended from today until after Easter, Education Minister Karl Samuda told Parliament yesterday.

In an advisory, the university said: “All mid-semester examinations scheduled for March 13, 2020 have subsequently been cancelled. Teaching is expected to resume, either online or face-to-face from April 14, 2020 and this may result in the semester being extended.”

“All Jamaican students who reside on hall are required to move home during this period. International and regional students are welcome to remain on hall, but are asked to strictly adhere to all instituted protocols,” it added said.

Earlier in the day yesterday, Prime Minister Andrew Holness had announced that all public schools would be closed for 14 days, from today.

He said the decision was made after consultation with the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information, and will be reviewed after 10 days.

“Parents will now have Saturday and Sunday to make further preparations for their children and that would give us time to complete our preparations to ensure that those schools that do not have Internet connectivity that they could receive materials to distribute to students so they can continue their education at home,” the Prime Minister said.

In Guyana, the Ministry of Education advised that with effect from next Monday, all schools will be closed for two weeks, during which time the decision will be reassessed during this period.

The University of Guyana (UG), meantime, said that while the mid-semester break is over, the university remains closed to non-essential staff and students and is expected to reopen for classes after March 20.

COVID-19, which has reached 117 countries since it was first detected in China, has been declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO). In addition to Jamaica, which now has eight cases, and Guyana, Caribbean countries affected include: Antigua and Barbuda, Trinidad and Tobago, St Vincent and the Grenadines, the Cayman Islands, Cuba, Martinique, the Dominican Republic, Saint Martin and Saint Barthelemy.

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