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Head Start Sites On St. Croix Will Re-Open Tomorrow, DHS Says

KINGSHILL — The Virgin Islands Department of Human Services (DHS, said that in-person classroom activities on St. Croix will resume tomorrow.

The Head Start Program had experienced COVID positives, as well as exposures at several Head Start sites and notification of confirmed COVID positives in the homes of program participants. DHS opted to close all classrooms for a one-week period to allow for COVID testing and to curtail on-the-job exposures.

“We believe that we have acted responsibly and always with the safety of our staff and students as the primary concern in our minds,” Department of Human Services Commissioner Kimberley Causey Gomez said. “While in-person instruction was paused on St Croix, staff was working diligently to ensure that if this pandemic environment is going to require us to toggle back and forth between in-person and virtual, when necessary, we will be able to do so with undue interruption to our provision of services to our children and families.”

DHS opted to close all classrooms for a one-week period to allow for COVID testing and to diminish the risk of on-the-job exposures.

“We are going to keep our eyes and ears open,” Assistant Commissioner Carla Benjamin said. “We are going to try our best to improve communication with staff, the union, our Head Start parents, our sister agencies and the community, so that we all understand our assignments. We don’t necessarily have to agree but doing this safely is DHS’ responsibility.”

For information, contact the VIDHS Head Start Program at telephone number (340) 773-1972 in
the St. Croix district or (340) 774-0930 extension 4200 in the St. Thomas/St. John district, email
headstartvi@dhs.vi.gov or visit http://www.dhs.gov.vi/preschool/index.html

To enroll your child in the Head Start program, use the online application portal:

  1. Go to https://vihs.mycopa.com/familyPortal/childCare.epl
  2. Select preferred language (English or Spanish) by clicking on English or Espanol in the top right corner
  3. Click on “Register”
  4. Give consent
  5. Create a family and child profile
    Please continue to maintain CDC best practices to prevent the spread of COVID-19:
    • Wear your mask (covering your nose and mouth while in the workplace).
    • Maintain social distance.
    • Wash your hands with soap for 20 seconds, often.
    • Wear appropriate other PPE while in contact with other staff or clients.
    • Use hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol when you cannot your wash hands.
    • Routinely clean and disinfect frequently used surfaces.
    • Share FACTS, not rumors.
    For general information, please visit the Department of Human Services website, www.dhs.gov.vi or on
    Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/usvidhs) at US Virgin Islands Department of Human Services.

If you are experiencing any of the coronavirus symptoms listed on the Department of Health website
(listed below), self-quarantine and immediately contact the Department of Health:
• V.I. DOH website: https://doh.vi.gov/
• COVID-19 Hotline: (340) 712-6299 or (340) 776-1519
For general information, please visit the Department of Human Services website, www.dhs.gov.vi
or on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/usvidhs) at US Virgin Islands Department of Human
Services.
For more information on Covid19, the new strain of coronavirus, please visit the USVI
Department of Health’s website, www.doh.vi.gov/coronavirus or text COVID19USVI to 888777.

The Department of Human Services (VIDHS) exists to provide social services to members in the community with diverse needs. In times of national uncertainty and hardship we act as a safety net and exist to inspire hope and empower change through non-judgmental, quality delivery of needed services and resources. Please visit the Department of Human Services website, www.dhs.gov.vi for more information.

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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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