No more ‘online school’ for nearly all secondary students from January
From January, secondary school students in all levels, except Form One (Grade Seven), will make a full return to face-to-face classes, signalling an end of the nearly two-year run of online teaching.
This was announced by the Minister of Education Priya Manickchand on Wednesday at the West Demerara Secondary school in Region Three (Essequibo Islands-West Demerara).
With the rollout of the Pfizer vaccines to children aged 12 to 17 years old, the Ministry of Education allowed students in Grades 10, 11 and 12 to return to face-to-face learning from October 2021.
Some schools had, however, offered hybrid learning where children engaged in online classes and only came to school for practical aspects of the curriculum.
In a press release issued in September, the Education Ministry emphasised that students in Grades 7, 8 and 9 would not return for face-to-face classes as yet. And so, online learning continued for these children.
Despite efforts at instituting a hybrid system of learning, Manickchand lamented that coming to school for a few days simply does not work.
“….we are saying that everybody has to come to school because this thing where you are coming to school two days a week and one day a week is not working.
“We can’t finish the curriculum and if we can’t finish it, we are failing you and it means you are going into exam rooms unprepared,” Manickchand said.
She emphasised that unvaccinated children will not be prevented from attending schools and noted that the necessary sanitisation mechanisms will be put in place to help ensure children’s safety from the dreaded coronavirus.
Importantly, she said that parents and students can decide against returning to these face-to-face classes. Those students who remain at home, however, will be allowed to access the online learning material and not live teaching that the ministry created.
“But we can’t tell you that a teacher will be coming to your home to teach you… you will have to take the responsibility of using that material wisely,” the Education Minister stated.
Face-to-face classes will not resume for students in Form One just yet since some of these children are 11 years old and as such, are not yet eligible for the COVID-19 vaccines being to the teenagers.
Once the Ministry of Health manages to secure the special Pfizer vaccines required for children aged five to 11, Manickchand said that these Form One students and even children in primary school will make a full return to face-to-face classes.