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Education Commissioner Racquel Berry-Benjamin Tests Positive For COVID-19

CHARLOTTE AMALIE — Virgin Islands Department of Education Commissioner Racquel Berry-Benjamin has tested positive for COVID-19.

Berry-Benjamin underwent COVID-19 testing on Friday, after experiencing symptoms overnight on September 9, the Department of Education said.

Berry-Benjamin did not perform any official duties following an emergency press conference she hosted on Thursday, according to the DOE.

Governor Albert Bryan Jr. uses hand sanitizer and gets a temperature check before going into Julius Sprauve School in St. John on Tuesday. The Governor and Education Commissioner toured schools on three islands together that day.

Assistant Education Commissioner Victor Somme III will serve as Acting Commissioner while Berry-Benjamin recuperates.

Berry-Benjamin has been fully vaccinated since February 2021, the department said in a prepared statement.

During a telephone call to staff on Friday evening, Berry-Benjamin said employees and the community should continue to follow all COVID-19 safety protocols, as the coronavirus remains prevalent, and all are susceptible to it.

The Department of Education said it “extends best wishes for a speedy recovery to Commissioner Berry-Benjamin and thanks the community for its support.”

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The Author

John McCarthy

John McCarthy

John McCarthy is primarily known for his investigative reporting on the U.S. Virgin Islands. A series of reports beginning in the 1990's revealed that there was everything from coliform bacteria to Cryptosporidium in locally-bottled St. Croix drinking water, according to a then-unpublished University of the Virgin Islands sampling. Another report, following Hurricane Hugo in 1989, cited a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) confidential overview that said that over 40 percent of the U.S. Virgin Islands public lives below the poverty line. The Virgin Islands Free Press is the only Caribbean news source to regularly incorporate the findings of U.S. Freedom of Information Act requests. John's articles have appeared in the BVI Beacon, St. Croix Avis, San Juan Star and Virgin Islands Daily News. He is the former news director of WSVI-TV Channel 8 on St. Croix.

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