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Students Returning To In-Person Classes Next Week Must Be Tested For COVID-19

CHARLOTTE AMALIE — The Virgin Islands Department of Education (VIDE), with guidance from the Virgin Islands Department of Health, is requiring all students attending the territory’s public schools and school-based employees to undergo COVID-19 testing in advance of the return to in-person learning on January 24.

The Department of Health will begin testing groups of students and school-based staff on Jan. 19, with both the vaccinated and unvaccinated required to be tested. A testing schedule will be emailed to students and employees. Parents may download the COVID-19 testing consent form by visiting www.vide.vi and clicking on the “COVID-19 Forms” tab at the top of the page. COVID-19 testing is free of charge.

The decision was made to implement mass testing due to the territory’s high positivity rate (currently 16%), increased COVID-19 hospitalizations Territory-wide (currently 25), and an increased number of positive cases among VIDE school-based employees.

The VIDE began COVID-19 testing of its School Food Authority workers, custodians, and monitors during the week of Jan. 10-14. Employees in these categories who did not test will be required to test in the upcoming round.

“The Department of Education is committed to ensuring the health and safety of students and staff as we continue to respond to the coronavirus pandemic,” Commissioner Racquel Berry-Benjamin said. “We ask that you commit to doing your part to keep the VIDE safe.”

Students ages five and older, and employees who wish to take the COVID-19 vaccine, may visit the community vaccination site on the island on which they reside.

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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everything from coliform bacteria to Cryptosporidium in locally-bottled St. Croix drinking water, according to a then-unpublished University of the Virgin Islands sampling.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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