Key officials at the Ministry of Education, including Minister Priya Manickchand, recently met with Regional Executive Officers (REO) and Regional Education Officers (REdO) across the country to discuss plans for the eventual re-opening of schools.
According to a statement from the Ministry, consideration is being given to having students in Grades 10 and 11 return to the school first as they need “critical time in the classroom to complete School-Based Assessment (SBA) in the lead-up to CXC and CAPE 2021.”
The Minister stressed the importance of certain amenities such as running water, adequate toilets and other related features that each school should have for the reopening to happen. She acknowledged that such an undertaking is a costly exercise but noted that the 2020 National Budget caters for this blended approach to address the situation.
The meeting also looked at how students at schools with dormitories will be adequately facilitated while still observing the COVID-19 social distancing guideline.
The Ministry said it was the consensus of the officials that ongoing work had to be accelerated and efficiently managed to ensure the safety of both students, teachers and other stakeholders and this will also be addressed.
Discussions were also held on ensuring adequate staffing and textbooks for schools in light of the pandemic which will ensure certain restrictions are not infringed.
In addition to the aforementioned, the Ministry of Education said it is currently undertaking works at schools across the country installing additional sinks at the entrances and within the schools.
Additional toilets are being built as COVID-19 guidelines signs are being erected in and around the schools. There is also weeding and cleaning of school compounds that are ongoing.
With schools closed since March this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Minister Manickchand told the officials that it was important that every school be fully prepared to receive both students and teachers in the safest of environments when schools are approved for re-opening by the Ministry of Health.
Also attending that virtual meeting were Chief Education Officer Dr Marcel Hutson, Permanent Secretary Alfred King, the Assistant Chief Education Officers for Nursery, Primary and Secondary along with all District Education Officers (DEO’s) and the Chief Planning Officer Ms Nicola Johnson.