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(CMC)— The Trinidad & Tobago government today announced the closure of primary schools across the islands even as students prepare for a national exam on August 20.

Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley, speaking at a news conference here, said that following discussions with health sector experts, it was agreed to close the schools effective tomorrow, after some pupils had been in contact with positive cases resulting in the previous closure of at least nine schools.

“We took firm decisions using the science and the data and we continue so to do. And of course, if there comes a point where we believe that the risk requires a certain response…then at that point we will make the decisions as we made in the beginning.

“But now we are not there. But there are some things we have been doing which have increased the risks which we are not comfortable with,” he said.                                                

 The PM noted that bringing students out to school to prepare for and sit the Secondary Entrance Assessment (SEA), “an exam that is important with respect to the movement of our children”, was “an experiment” the government has decided to discontinue.

“The decision that I have taken is that we will discontinue at this stage from tomorrow. Those children will not go back out to have classes at school and we expect they will do at home what they were doing before….for the exams on August 20 because we will remain committed to having the exams.”

SEA is a government exam sat by children aged 11 to 12 as part of the admissions for public secondary schools. It was introduced in 2001 to replace the Common Entrance exam.                                                                                                      Meanwhile, the T&T government is scheduled to stage general elections on August 10.         

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