Parents of pupils attending the San Fernando ASJA Primary School plan to keep their children away from classes today following reports of cases of hand-foot-and-mouth disease (HFMD).
They said exams were cancelled and classes were ended early yesterday as a result of the suspected outbreak.
However, in a statement late yesterday, the Ministry of Education said all necessary health protocols had been implemented at the school. Tests were carried out on the compound by the Ministry of Health personnel, but they have not yet confirmed the presence of the disease.
“Meanwhile, the school remains open, since the Ministry of Health has not given instructions to close the school,” the statement said.
One parent said at least eight pupils in the Infant classes began suffering from severe diarrhoea and nausea and on Wednesday, when they were alerted to a possible outbreak, parents rushed to the school to pick up their children.
“There were kids vomiting yesterday (Wednesday), but I thought they had it under control. I am not sending my son to school tomorrow (today),” one parent said.
Minister in the Ministry of Education Dr Lovell Francis said yesterday that doctors had treated three pupils for vomiting and dizziness. However, he said they have not yet provided a full report on the incident.
In a letter, a copy posted to the Facebook page of the school’s Parent/Teachers Association (PTA), principal Karen Mohammed invited parents of Infants One and Two pupils, together with PTA executives, to attend a sensitisation session with the Ministry of Health on the disease. The letter stated that due to the lack of space and because this age group is more susceptible to the disease, only those parents were invited.
The PTA executive also wrote: “As of today, November 28, 2018, there have been a number of confirmed cases of hand-foot-and-mouth disease in our school. There have also been a number of cases of gastroenteritis, which appear to be viral and spreading across students. Please be assured that we are working with the school’s administration and providing all support possible.
“The school administration is in contact with the relevant authorities, and there is a meeting with the Ministry of Health carded for tomorrow (today) at 9 am to sensitise parents. In the interim, we sincerely ask that parents keep children at home who have been confirmed as carrying the illness or are showing symptoms which include fever, vomiting and rashes. In such cases, we ask that you promptly consult a doctor. “
It added: “For parents who are concerned about their child contracting the illness, we hear your concerns and recommend that you do what you think is best in terms of sending your child to school. We empathise with each of you and ask for your support to navigate this issue successfully.”
Mohammed could not be reached for comment on the situation yesterday,
Hand-foot-and-mouth disease is a mild but contagious viral infection that is common in young children. It is characterised by sores in the mouth and a rash on the hands and feet.