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JIS News

Story Highlights

  • The Ministry of Health has provided recommendations for safe water use to the Ministry of Education for dissemination to all schools.
  • Director for Health Promotion and Protection in the Ministry, Dr. Sonia Copeland, told JIS News that the recommendations to schools are in light of the severe drought conditions affecting the island and the resulting water restrictions.
  • Parents of younger children are being asked to send them to school with drinking water.

The Ministry of Health has provided recommendations for safe water use to the Ministry of Education for dissemination to all schools.

Director for Health Promotion and Protection in the Ministry, Dr. Sonia Copeland, told JIS News that the recommendations to schools are in light of the severe drought conditions affecting the island and the resulting water restrictions.

“We know that the provision of safe water and adequate sanitation is really a step that we can take to prevent the spread of disease in that vulnerable population, especially in the early childhood institutions,” she said.

These recommendations, she said, “look at why we have to ensure that the water is free from disease causing micro-organisms and we also make recommendations on how to make the water for drinking safe, either by boiling for at least a minute or using household bleach in the recommended quantities.”

Parents of younger children are being asked to send them to school with drinking water. “We are also encouraging parents to give the children hand sanitizers as well, and parents really need to help us to reinforce hand washing and basic hygiene sanitation practices,” Dr. Copeland said.

“We have also given advice to those schools with large tanks or schools that have been harvesting water on how to make that water safe for use. We have found it necessary, as well, to give information on how to clean and maintain these tanks,” she informed.

She said it is also important to keep storage containers covered to prevent insects, dust and other contaminants from getting into the water.

The Director advised that if an institution is experiencing great difficulty accessing water it should contact the Ministry. She said the facility may have to be temporarily closed until the situation is normalised.

The Ministry of Health works closely with the Ministry of Education every year in preparations for back-to-school.

As such, public health officers, nurses and inspectors use the summer period to inspect institutions, including the physical environs, as well as water tanks.

Checks are also made to ensure that there are enough water closets and faucets for the school population.

Dr. Copeland informed that at the start of the semester there should be no accumulation of solid waste and that vector treatment should have been done ahead of the students and teachers returning to school.

She said that with respect to sanitation “especially for the little ones, we have to ensure that we are cleaning and disinfecting the bathrooms at least twice daily.”

Meanwhile, Dr. Copeland informed that the Ministry of Health is working on draft legislation that will regulate all operators of water trucks.

She is advising persons purchasing water to ensure that they know where the commodity is being sourced.

She said water being delivered to offices, schools and communities should be coming from the National Water Commission (NWC), which provides treated water.