The Government has ordered the closure of all schools for 14 days effective tomorrow (March 13) in light of COVID-19 cases in Jamaica.
The institutions affected are all early childhood institutions, primary and prep schools, secondary schools, community and teacher’s colleges.
The announcement was made today (March 12) by Prime Minister Andrew Holness during a press briefing.
“As of tomorrow, schools will be officially closed for 14 days. We will review this decision after ten days, but I believe we have given notice, tomorrow will have been a low turnout day anyway, as was today. Parents would now have Saturday and Sunday to make further preparations for their children and that would give us time as well to complete our preparations to ensure that those schools who would not have internet connectivity would receive materials to distribute to students so that they can continue their education at home,” said Prime Minister Holness.
The matter will be reviewed in ten days. After this period, the Government will update the country.
Importantly, Prime Minister Holness noted that the suspension of schools is a precautionary measure to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in Jamaica. Where possible subjects will be taught online.
Meanwhile, the Prime Minister also advised the public of the closure of the community and HOPE training component, HEART Trust National Service and Training Agency (NSTA) with immediate effect for 14 days.
“The HEART Trust National Service and Training Agency has also advised that after reviewing their situation and without any objections from me, in fact, my agreement and endorsement, that they will close with immediate effect, so that means effectively tomorrow, all their community-based training programmes and all their HOPE training programmes. So those will remain closed for the next 14 days,” said Prime Minister Holness.
In the meantime, the Tax Administration of Jamaica has revised the deadline for the filing of income tax.
In that regard, companies, partnerships, self-employed persons and employed persons with other sources of income will now have until March 25, 2020, to file their income tax returns for the 2019 filing period and estimated returns for 2020 with no penalty.
“The Tax Administration of Jamaica wishes to advise all income tax filers that a decision has been taken to extend the income tax filing deadline to Wednesday, March 25, 2020. This means that companies, partnerships, self-employed persons and employed persons with other sources of income will now have until March 25, 2020, to file their income tax returns for the 2019 filing period and estimated returns for 2020,” said Minister of Finance and Public Service Dr Nigel Clarke.
Regarding, patient number one, the second confirmed case of COVID-19, Prime Minister Holness has appealed to persons who were on flight AA1515 from Miami to Montego Bay on March 7, 2020, to contact the Ministry of Health at Wellness at 888-ONE-LOVE or email at [email protected].
In the meantime, the Prime Minister advised those who are ill to remain in their homes and contact the Ministry of Health for advice.
Prime Minister Holness reiterated that members of the public should think smartly and act wisely to contain the virus.