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Charlotte Amalie
Thursday, June 20, 2024
HomeNewsLocal newsLow USVI Vaccination Rates Begin to Shut Down In-Person Schooling

Low USVI Vaccination Rates Begin to Shut Down In-Person Schooling

The front sign of Ulla F. Muller Elementary School. (Source photo by Bethaney Lee)

The Ulla F. Muller Elementary School on St. Thomas and the Pearl B. Larsen PreK-8 School on St. Croix have both reverted to virtual learning due to confirmed COVID-19 exposure on campus. In both cases, the confirmed positive results came on Wednesday, one day after the schools reopened to in-person learning.

The virus continues to spread unchecked in the territory due to an insufficient proportion of the population taking the free vaccine to create herd immunity and slow spread to the point where it declines rather than increases.

Every single Virgin Islander who has died from COVID-19 has been unvaccinated. While 63 Virgin Islanders have died so far, hundreds more have long-term or permanent damage to their lungs, hearts and other organs. No vaccinated Virgin Islanders have experienced reactions severe enough to require hospitalization.

An announcement will be made on when the two schools will reopen for in-person learning.

Meal distribution in the “No V.I. Child Goes Hungry” feeding initiative is not affected at the Muller campus and will operate as normal.

As part of the Department of Education’s COVID-19 protocols, the affected areas of the campus will be thoroughly sanitized using the appropriate, CDC-approved sanitizing solutions. Department officials pointed out that it is to be expected that there would be COVID-19 exposure on campuses as schools operate during the pandemic; however, all schools have the appropriate safety protocols in place to address cases as they arise.

“While we very much prefer to have our students on our campuses, their health and safety, and that of our staff, are top priorities,” said Commissioner Racquel Berry-Benjamin. “All of our school campuses have the capability to seamlessly move between in-person and virtual learning as we continue to educate students during the pandemic. We ask everyone to do their part — get vaccinated, continue to social distance, wash hands frequently, wear a mask — so that students can continue to learn uninterrupted on our school campuses.”

Pearl B. Larsen School (File photo)
Pearl B. Larsen School (Bill Kossler photo)

The Education Department asks employees who are sick to remain at home. If an employee has undergone COVID-19 testing, he or she should remain quarantined until negative COVID-19 test results are received. If an employee tests positive for COVID-19, he or she should seek further guidance from the V.I. Department of Health or a healthcare provider.

Parents are also asked that if they or anyone in their household test positive for COVID-19 or have COVID-19-related symptoms, children in that household should not attend in-person classes. All members of the household must remain in quarantine until negative COVID-19 test results are received or until all members have been cleared by the V.I. Department of Health. To knowingly expose others to COVID-19 is punishable by fines and imprisonment.

The COVID-19 vaccine is available to all USVI residents aged 12 and up. Visit www.covid19usvi.com/vaccines for more information and to schedule an appointment to receive the free COVID-19 vaccine.

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