The re-opening of schools on January 17 in Seychelles will once again see virtual learning taking place for the first week while standard operating procedures are beefed up in preparation for teaching in physical classrooms after, said an official of the education ministry on Thursday.
According to the health ministry, there are currently 5,546 active cases in Seychelles, an archipelago in the western Indian Ocean, among which over 800 are children under 18 years old. This follows the arrival of the Omicron variant to the islands, which has proven to be much more infectious in the last week but milder in terms of symptoms.
This has pushed the Ministry of Education to re-evaluate its plans for the re-opening of schools to ensure that the virus does not continue to spread in its educational institutions.
"For the first week of school, classes will be done virtually, for all primary and secondary schools while students who are in the second year of their advanced level studies will go back to school," said Regina Prosper, the director for health and safety at the Ministry of Education.
Prosper said that private schools will allow students who are scheduled to have their international exams this year to attend classes at the school while others will follow online classes.
Last year's reopening of schools was also done through virtual learning after a spike in cases at the end of December 2020 forced the authorities to impose restrictions on movement.
With the aim of reducing interruptions in the adolescent's studies, Seychelles started a vaccination campaign for 12 to 17 years old in September last year. In the figures given late last year around 4,425 adolescents out of a population of 8,235 had received both doses of the Pfizer vaccines which amounted to 53 percent.
Meanwhile, in a bid to reduce pressures being put upon health services in the country, the Health Care Agency announced at a press conference that it will conduct free training for workplaces to perform their own rapid testing, to ease pressure on current testing stations.
The Ministry of Health revealed that 150 health care staff are currently infected with COVID-19, which has caused staff to be re-deployed to ensure there are no interruptions to services.
"At the moment, we have not cancelled any services, especially surgeries, and we are continuing to ensure that all our services remain unaffected by the situation," said the chief executive of the Health Care Agency, Danny Louange.
Seychelles, a country with a population of almost 100,000, has recorded a total of 31,098 positive COVID-19 cases with 4,130 new cases in the past two weeks. No new COVID-19-related deaths have been registered in the two-week period.
Public Health Commissioner Jude Gedeon said that Seychelles has now recorded its highest number of new cases in a single day, a figure that stands at 758. The previous peak of 620 was recorded during the previous wave of the virus in May 2021.