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Charlotte Amalie
Tuesday, November 29, 2022
HomeNewsLocal newsSt. Thomas-St. John Students Resume Virtual Classes as COVID-19 Cases Rise

St. Thomas-St. John Students Resume Virtual Classes as COVID-19 Cases Rise

A young student gets tested for COVID-19 this week as part of the Health Department's effort to assure a safe return to school following Carnival celebrations on St. Thomas. (V.I. Health Department photo)
A young student gets tested for COVID-19 this week as part of the Health Department’s effort to assure a safe return to school following Carnival celebrations on St. Thomas. (V.I. Health Department photo)

Public school students in the St. Thomas-St. John District will learn virtually for the rest of the week as in-person classes are suspended due to a rise in COVID-19 cases following the Carnival celebrations that concluded on Sunday, the V.I. Education Department announced Tuesday night.

The Health Department, in conjunction with Education, began testing all students and school-based staff territorywide Monday to ensure a safe return to school this week, according to a press release it issued Tuesday night. The testing will resume Wednesday from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. for those who did not test the prior two days. Visit www.vide.vi for complete details.

On Monday, 5,572 students, teachers and school staff were tested on all three islands, according to the Health Department. Another 3,921 were tested Tuesday. Of those totals, 290 individuals tested positive and are now isolated, Health Commissioner Justa Encarnacion said in the press release.

“Many individuals scheduled for testing on Tuesday were instead tested on Monday. This caused a backlog, long lines and a long wait time for all,” said Encarnacion. Indeed, parents and guardians have expressed frustration on social media over wait times as long as four hours to get their children tested, and then concern over when they would receive the test results.

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“Our goal is to do everything possible to make the in-person instruction experience safe and healthy for students and teachers alike. If we can identify and isolate active cases from the student population at the schools, we stand a far better chance of reducing the transmission of COVID-19,” said Encarnacion.

According to a press release from the Education Department late Tuesday night, all schools in the St. Croix District will resume in-person learning on Wednesday. Students and school-based staff should report to their campuses, pending having received a negative COVID-19 test result, it said. Students’ negative test results must be shown at the entrance of the school, where they will receive a wristband to wear for the remainder of the week, the release stated.

All schools in the St. Thomas-St. John District will remain virtual for the remainder of the week, the release stated. Students are expected to resume in-person learning on Monday, May 9, it said. The late notice also sparked an angry response on social media from parents, many of whom said they only learned of the change when they woke on Wednesday morning.

With active cases and hospitalizations rising throughout the territory – there were 303 active cases as of Tuesday, an increase of 71 from Monday – the Health Department also reminds Virgin Islanders about the procedures related to isolating and quarantining after a positive test result.

Vaccinated individuals with a positive test result should isolate for seven days from their positive test date, regardless of symptoms, the department stated. They may return to in-person activities eight days after the positive test date — a negative test is not required, it said.

Unvaccinated individuals should isolate for 10 days from the positive test date and may return to in-person activities 11 days after the positive test date – a negative test is not required, the department said.

Regardless of vaccine status, anyone with a positive test result should wear a well-fitting mask for 10 days when around in-home family members. You cannot test out of isolation at any point –isolation is time-based, the department said.

For close contacts of persons with positive test results, vaccinated individuals with no symptoms should quarantine for seven days, with the option to test out of quarantine at least five days after their last exposure. They may return to in-person activities after receiving a negative test, the department stated.

Unvaccinated individuals who have no symptoms should quarantine for 10 days, with the option to test out of quarantine at least seven days after their last exposure. They may return to in-person activities after receiving a negative test, the department stated.

Anyone who develops symptoms of COVID-19 should get tested as soon as possible, and if you have symptoms but have not been tested, get tested and remain in quarantine until you have received your test results, the department stated.

Positive test results from a home COVID-19 test need to be confirmed, it said. Confirmation testing can be arranged by calling the COVID-19 Hotline at 340-712-6299 on St. Croix or 340-776-1519 on St. Thomas. The hotline is open Monday to Friday between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. To pre-register for testing visit www.Covid19usvi.com/testing.

If you have a medical emergency, call 911. For more information, visit covid19usvi.com. For COVID19 updates, text COVID19USVI to 888777.

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