20 Aug, 2021

The country’s early-childhood institutions have benefited from much-needed support to better enable them to operate within the health and safety guidelines stipulated by the Government to reduce transmission of the coronavirus (COVID-19).

Through funding of $50 million from the CHASE Fund, basic schools across the island have been equipped with personal protective equipment (PPE) and sanitation and hygiene supplies.

Provided were handwashing stations/basins, water storage tanks, liquid soap, paper towels, hand sanitiser, hand sanitiser dispensers, thermometers, alcohol, gloves, face shields, masks and bed linen.

It is part of a larger programme of assistance to more than 180 early-childhood and primary institutions under the Resilient Schools Project, which aims to provide a safer environment for students, teachers, school administrators, parents, and school communities, in response to COVID-19.

Director for Donor and Partnership Management at the National Education Trust (NET), Latoya Harris, indicated that the support from CHASE was welcome, as a number of basic schools were having challenges in meeting the COVID-19 measures.

“A lot of schools may not have had all the financial resources to do all of the necessary changes so to provide them with those fixed resources such as water tanks or the sanitation station, really, is welcomed because a lot of them need it,” she said.

Miss Harris noted that the support from the CHASE Fund, which she hailed as a long-standing partner of NET, would better enable school administrators to focus on other pressing needs.

“With COVID-19, some of them had to retrofit and do some construction work to ensure that they have that isolation room, which is one of the requirements for schools. There are also some that will need additional infrastructure for the additional water tanks to supply the sanitation stations at critical points throughout the school. Some schools will also need piping to get water to these stations,” she pointed out.

Miss Harris added that the school administrators have all reacted positively to the timely donations.

“This grant and assistance were welcomed because it allows schools to focus on certain key areas while they got support with other things to enhance sanitisation and hygiene,” she added.

CHASE Fund Project Manager, Latoya Aquart-Foster, noted that the entity was committed to assisting infant and primary schools to address the challenges of the pandemic.

“Many schools were uncertain of how they would put in place the measures required by the health authorities because funding is always a constraint among both privately run and government-run schools. So we were happy to have been able to provide funding to procure these items and distribute them across schools islandwide,” she says.

Mrs. Aquart-Foster also noted that the entity is pleased to be able to provide the funds to improve the health and safety of children.

“When we saw that we could assist these schools we jumped at the opportunity and we are happy to have been a part of it, and it is our hope that it has gone a far way in preparing the schools to better manage the COVID-19 protocols,” she said.

Mrs. Aquart-Foster noted that even though students are learning remotely, the supplies are beneficial “because a lot of staff members have to go in to conduct the lessons from school while children are at home. So they have benefit while children are learning from home as well as when schools do reopen.”