Chamber to host Education Summit; Gov’t plans COVID tests for staff and some students

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Cayman Islands Chamber of Commerce President Mike Gibbs talks to Premier Wayne Panton during the Chamber’s Legislative Luncheon on Thursday.

The Cayman Islands Chamber of Commerce plans to host a major Education Summit this year to help “bridge the gap between the world of work and classroom”, Chamber President Mike Gibbs said during Thursday’s Legislative Luncheon.

Also during the Chamber’s annual event, Premier Wayne Panton went over the government’s plan to reopen to international tourism after the COVID-19 border lockdown, including COVID-19 testing requirements for school staff and unvaccinated students who have travelled.

Chamber Education Summit

“Education reform featured prominently during the recent election campaign. Nearly all candidates mentioned some aspect of education reform in their manifestoes and during public meetings,” Gibbs said.

“Education is often regarded as a political football that is tossed from administration to administration with differences of opinion on what needs to be improved or changed to ensure that students possess the skills that are required to become productive contributors in the workforce or entrepreneurs who start their own businesses.”

“The Chamber will be organising an Education Summit later this year which we hope will generate an open and frank conversation and exchange of views between educators and employers on what needs to take place to bridge the gap between the world of work and classroom so that our students are prepared and ready to fill the jobs and business opportunities of the future.”

“We intend to meet with the Minister soon to discuss the event and seek her support and partnership.”

Minister of Education Juliana O’Connor-Connolly was invited to Thursday’s luncheon at the Kimpton Seafire Resort and Spa, but was among the handful of dignitaries who did not attend.

Border reopening plan

Education reform was not among the topics discussed by Premier Panton during his address.

He detailed the government’s phased plan to reopen Cayman to tourism over the next 6 months, with the earliest assessment for a full reopening projected for 27 Jan. 2022.

The limited reintroduction of tourism planned for Phase 3 of 5 is contingent on 80% of the local population being vaccinated against COVID-19.

Currently only people age 12 and over are eligible to receive the vaccination. According to ESO statistics, some 82% of the population is ‘working age’ (i.e. 15 and over).

Generally speaking, in order to reach the government’s 80% target, roughly 95% of the eligible population would need to be vaccinated.

Phase 4 of the government’s reopening plan eliminates quarantine requirements for ‘verified vaccinated’ international travellers, and is projected to start 14 Oct.

Under Phase 4, unvaccinated children over the age of 5 are required to have a negative PCR test for COVID before they are allowed to return to school.

Phase 4 also calls for ‘surveillance’ COVID testing for frontline workers, including school staff.

Those same requirements for local students and school staff hold for Phase 5, which removes inbound quarantine requirements for unvaccinated children under the age of 12. Phase 5 is projected to begin 18 Nov.

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