Family claims child expelled from private school over COVID concerns


The family of a young child who attends the Smart Minds Education Institute in Georgetown has claimed that the Grade Three pupil was expelled by the school after the child’s mother tested positive for the disease COVID-19.

Tonia Richmond, the child’s mother, tested positive for COVID-19 on September 24. Subsequently, other family members within the household got tested for the disease as well, but it was found that they were not infected.

Richmond told the News Room that after self-isolating for two weeks, she and other family members opted to get tested again to confirm that they were no longer infected with the disease. Those tests, she said, showed that no family member was infected with COVID-19 and as such, she had recovered.

But, after taking that test, the child informed her class teacher that she had gone for the COVID-19 test and that resulted in her being late for school one day. In what appeared to be a state of panic, Richmond said that her child was sent home.

Days later, on Monday morning, Richmond said that the family received a call from the school’s principal indicating that the school’s Board decided that the child should stay home for two weeks as a precaution. But Richmond disagreed with this and instead told the principal that none of the family members was infected with the disease at that time.

Still, about one hour later, the woman was informed that the child would no longer be permitted to attend the school and that the school would provide a full refund for the school fees paid. Essentially, Richmond said, her child was expelled.

On Wednesday morning, Richmond and a few other family members stood outside the school and protested against the decision made to expel the child from the school.

“I feel this is unfair because we are living in a world with COVID and no child should have to go through this,” she told the News Room at the scene.

When contacted, the school’s principal declined to comment on the matter.

Meanwhile, an official from the Ministry of Education, who wished to remain anonymous, stated that the issue is not only about the child’s mother testing positive.

According to the official, the family continued to send the child to school after Richmond tested positive. Richmond, however, explained that the child was not showing any symptoms and a COVID test later confirmed that she was not infected.

Still, the official said that the child’s class teacher “became very anxious” when she found out that the child’s mother was COVID-positive. And, for the safety of other children and teachers at the school, the class teacher was the one who asked that the child stay home.

Beyond this, the official also said that the school complained of the family’s irate behaviour.

“The school took a decision that because of the way the people [the child’s family] were behaving publicly in the school – the busing out and so- they were going to give them a refund for the term and ask the child not to return to the school.

“Not because the mother was COVID- positive but because of the attitude of the family members,” the official stated.

Nevertheless, the official said that the Education Ministry has been intervening in the matter and will work to find a mutually beneficial solution. Importantly, the official stated that the ministry was prepared to place the child in a public school immediately to ensure that she is able to continue learning.

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