Minister of Education, Priya Manickchand 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 was 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 Nicola Johnson.
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 MoE’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.
With grades ten (10) and (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.
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.
In addition to the aforementioned, the Ministry of Education 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.