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Wednesday, March 3, 2021

Education official says school infection rate ‘low’ despite parents’ concerns

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The cases found in schools were due to negligence in following preventive and precautionary, officials claim. 

A senior education official said coronavirus infections in schools are less than one percent, ruling out plans to switch to online-only mode. 

Mohamad Al Bashri, an adviser to the minister of education and higher education, said schools should only be closed when the infection rate reaches five percent to ensure the safety of the community.

“A few COVID-19 cases were detected in schools because of negligence in following preventive and precautionary measures implemented by the Ministry of Education and Higher Education (MoEHE) in coordination with the Ministry of Public Health,” said Al Bashri during a Qatar TV programme.

To help tackle negligence in schools, the ministry took strict action against some institutes for not complying with COVID-19 measures and protocols. Several schools have been temporarily shut down after positive cases of COVID-19 were detected among students and teachers, the ministry announced.

Read more: Schools, businesses shut down for violating COVID-19 precautions

Surprise school inspections were also intensified to ensure safety, the ministry said.  

“The school’s environment is very safe as per MoPH figures. There are joint inspection teams from MoEHE and MoPH and separate teams of MoEHE to monitor COVID-19 protocol implementation. Screenings are being conducted for students, teaching and administrative staff on daily basis,” said Al Bashri.

However, despite the low infection rate and health precautions, several parents are concerned about their children’s health during classes and exams, questioning whether closing schools now would be a safer option given the recent rise in numbers.

“Kids play around and touch things. It’d be hard to control them, and now whenever I see the number of daily cases rise, I just worry a lot about my children’s health,” mum of three, Nahla, told Doha News.

“I hear often about schools shutting down or finding cases in some classes and it’s worrying. Especially now,” she added.

On that note, Al Bashri parents should ensure they are adhering to strict health measures, highlighting that the infection problem is not from schools.  

“Relaxations in following the measures were noticed in some schools where strict actions were taken against erring government and private schools to avoid repetition of this mistake,” said Al Bashri.

Some schools have failed to apply precautionary measures.

“For instance, not measuring the temperature of students before entering school, not adhering to social distancing between individuals or lack of sterilisation tools,” he added.

The education official also confirmed the ministry is scheduled to meet with health authorities to decide on guidelines for midterm exams.


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