Long-shuttered Dominican schools reopen under strict Covid-19 protocols

Santo Domingo, Sep 20 (EFE).- The Dominican Republic on Monday officially reopened schools after a year and a half of virtual learning, taking that step after daily new coronavirus cases have remained low in recent weeks.

More than 2 million public and private school students are to receive instruction during the new academic year, according to the Education Ministry, which has launched rigorous health protocols aimed at preventing the spread of Covid-19 in classrooms.

Students must remain at least 1.5 meters (4.9 feet) apart and mask use is universally required on school premises, while authorities plan to set up Covid-19 vaccination centers that are specifically aimed at inoculating minors aged 12 to 17.

Ninety-nine percent of Dominican teachers are vaccinated, Education Minister Roberto Fulcar said at the official school re-opening ceremony, acknowledging deficiencies in that sector but asserting that a “new stage” is now under way.

After closing schools in March 2020 following the first reported coronavirus case within the country’s borders, Dominican authorities decided to move to partial in-person instruction in May. The vast majority of schools, however, continued to offer virtual classes exclusively.

The return to in-person schooling comes at a time of low numbers of new coronavirus cases and deaths – only 228 new cases and one death were reported on Monday – and low test positivity rates (number of positives identified per 100 tests).

Even so, last week’s confirmation of the arrival of the Delta variant in the country has sparked concern in some sectors.

Around 4.8 million people, or nearly 57 percent of the Dominican Republic’s adult population, have received the full two-dose Covid-19 vaccine series. A total of 842,873 others have received a third dose, which began to be administered in that Caribbean country in July. EFE


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