The announcement of a confirmed case and other unconfirmed cases in Papua New Guinea compels the Minister of Education to issue this Direction. This direction is consistent with The Prime Minister’s Statement on 22nd of March 2020 to bring forward the Term 1 holidays.
COVID 19 is a new virus for which there is no vaccine to treat it. Schools play a critical role in protecting the health of their students, staff, and the community from highly contagious, infectious diseases such as the current COVID-19.
It is possible that nationwide school suspensions or closures can mitigate the incidence of the pandemic, thereby reducing its impact on individuals, groups, health systems, and the economy. The personal hygiene practices, including social distancing with suspension or closing of schools can limit the spread of the pandemic. Social distancing measures help reduce the morbidity and mortality of the pandemic.
Direction on Suspension of Classes.
Therefore, today Monday 23rd March 2020, consistent with Section 27 and 91 of the Education Act 1983, I as Minister responsible for education matters for the State direct the suspension of all public, permitted and private schools from tomorrow 24th March 2020 till the 03rd of April 2020 as a precaution against the spread of corona virus or COVID-19.
This approval for suspension applies to:
- Provincial institutions, namely elementary schools, primary schools, high schools, and vocational institutions.
- National institutions, namely national high schools, Special Education Centers and FODE Centers.
- National tertiary institutions, namely teachers colleges and technical and business colleges, and
- All permitted and private schools that provide education in the country.
Protocols and Guidelines.
The suspension of classes must follow the specific protocols as set out below:
(A) Protocols for Provincial Schools.
- All Provincial Education Board in consultation with the respective Provincial Government must direct and oversee and oversee the suspension of classes until the end of Term 1; and
- Teachers should help report for student supervisory duties, but strict protocols and preventive measures must be taken all the time.
(B) Protocols for the National High Schools , FODE Centers and Special Education Centers.
- All national high schools, FODE Centers and Special Education Resource Centers will be locked down and classes suspended
- Heads of institutions must ensure that close down is orderly and safe.
- Boarding students who have homes nearby can leave the school campus as of tomorrow
- Boarding students who cannot go home immediately will be advised of their repatriation, if necessary, as soon as possible.
- Teachers, students and the whole school community who will remain in schools during the suspension must take all preventative measures, including social distancing.
- Contact with outsiders must be strictly controlled or totally prohibited;
- Social distancing and regular washing of hands with soap and water is compulsory
(C) Protocols for Teachers Colleges and Technical Colleges.
The Direction given by the Minister for Higher Education dated 19th March, 2020 titled IMMEDIATE ACTION IS NOW REQUIRED ON OUR CAMPUS REGARDING COVID 19 should be adhered to until further instructions are given. Emergencies and Information.
If there is a suspended case in a school community, the individuals/s must be isolated and the school authorities must immediately call the local health clinic or hospital for advice on these numbers.
The COVID-19 HOTLINE: 71960813
Free Hotline Help Desk: 1-800-200
St.Johns COVID-19 Response Tea: Tel: 111
For information and guidance in relation to the suspension of schools he Department of Education Hotlines will be:
DIGICEL : 7163 0650
BMOBILE: 7570 49 57
For more information on COVID-19 visit: www.health.gov.pg/Subindex.php
- Depending on the COVID-19 status on 03rd April, 2020, I will issue another direction if classes will resume for the final week of Term 1, the dates for Term 1 holidays and the commencement for Term 2.
- All critical national education calendar activities including examination dates, term dates, inspection ratings will be reviewed, if and where necessary.
- All national education events and activities such as workshops are suspended.
- Access to Fincorp House Headquarters will be restricted, controlled and limited to only SSM and TMT members and critical Units staff. Other staff will remain at homes and will be called on when and if there is a need.
- We will put an advice in both media and Circulars to schools by 03rd April, 2020.
- It is unfortunate to take these extreme measures, but it is sensible step in the interest of the health of students and their families, teachers and the greater good of our society.
I urge every parent and citizen to advise your children to practice personal hygiene and encourage him/her to engage in productive educational tasks whilst at home.
HON.JOSEPH YOPYYOPY, MP
MINISTER FOR EDUCATION
Approved for Release on: 23rd of March 2020