Grades 10 and 11 could be first group of students to return to classrooms

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Education Minister Priya Manickchand is in the process of ensuring that schools are fully ready for reopening in keeping with the Covid-19 guidelines (MoE photo)

With Grades Ten (10) and Eleven (11) students needing critical time in the classroom to complete School-Based Assessment (SBA) in the lead-up to CXC and CAPE 2021; consideration is being given for this group of students to return to the classrooms first.

Minister of Education Priya Manickchand recently held a virtual meeting with all Regional Executive Officers (REO) and Regional Education Officers (REdO) to discuss plans for the eventual re-opening of schools.

Also attending that meeting were the Ministry of Education’s Chief Education Officer Dr Marcel Hutson; Permanent Secretary Alfred King; and 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.

According to the Ministry of Education, the objective of the meeting was to ascertain where the regions are with regards to their preparedness for the eventual re-opening of schools.

The Education Minister said that she wanted to get an understanding as to whether the regions level of preparedness matched the Ministry’s.

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.

It is against this background that Minister Manickchand stressed the importance of certain amenities such as running water, adequate toilets and other related features that each school should have.

She acknowledged that such an undertaking is a costly exercise. However, it was noted the National Budget caters for this blended participatory approach in addressing the current 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.

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.