A teacher and pupil have tested positive for Covid-19 at a secondary school on the Rock, reported local media Tuesday. St Bernard’s Lower Primary School instructed its Year 2 pupils, among whom the cases emerged, to stay at home and self-isolate triggering contact tracing protocols and a return to online learning.
“Everybody is working very, very hard to make sure we contain this” said Minister for Public Health and Education Dr. John Cortes, indicating the community now had the advantage of time and progress since the onset of the virus.
“We know a lot more about the virus, we know how to get rid of it and we are working very hard. I’m sad that we have had to do this, but I’m very happy at the way we’ve done it.”
Cortes told parents that the Contact Tracing team were talking with the Department of Education and the school to inform parents of children and staff in close contact with positive cases to self-isolate up to the end of Monday 14 September.
Close contact according to the school is close proximity in an enclosed area for longer than 15 minutes.
The new cases comes as nearby Spain experiences a spike in positives with the Government of Gibraltar issuing warnings for people traveling there to keep social distance. There are now 39 cases on the Rock, but across the border in the cities of La Linea and Algericas, there are 97 and 245 active cases, respectively. The total number of cases in the Kingdom has surpassed 500,000, the first in Western Europe.
Meanwhile parent groups have expressed concern of Year 2 pupils reversion to the online learning programme Seesaw.
“If this is the shape of things to come, we worry that the effect of this approach might be that the schools end up closed before the end of the month,” said Gibraltar Parents For Education (GPFE) in a statement.
GPFE, along with the Civil Union of Students and Parents (CUSP), say the programme puts unnecessary pressure on parents with inadequate learning content, which will have long term repercussions on education.
CUSP also noted the disparity between private and state institutions, the former continuing curriculum-based online learning.
“We demand access to the curriculum for our children and we refuse to let them fall behind the rest of the world through lack of initiative.”