The Department of Education has noted the concerns expressed due to the number of reported positive cases of Covid-19. As Minister for Education, I have been in constant dialogue with the Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Sharon Belmar George and her team as well as my staff at the Department of Education to assess the situation. I can say that for the most part the reopening of schools ran smoothly, thanks to the efforts of our principals, teachers and ancillary staff who went over and beyond, to have those schools ready to welcome our students.
As cases impact the nation and by extension, the education sector, these will be managed as per the Ministry of Health’s protocols. We will always communicate with the affected parties within the education system as we manage individual situations. The decision to return to the physical classroom, has always been guided by the Department of Health as well as information coming from agencies such as WHO and CARPHRA.
The Department of Education was able to assess the effectiveness of the “Education Sector Continuity Plan” which speaks to specific scenarios that could impact our education system. I would like to thank all of the stakeholders for their input in the revision of the plan ahead of the reopening in January.
Let me reiterate that it is understandable that there will be some concern coming from parents, teachers, staff and the wider population about the safety of our children at this time. However, I wish to underscore that at no time will my Ministry, the Government or myself do anything that would deliberately put the lives of our students, teachers and staff at risk.
Therefore, we are asking everyone to continue to play their part by observing the protocols, wearing a mask, practicing physical distancing, washing hands frequently, sanitizing and avoiding gatherings.
I also ask parents that should you or anyone in your family test for Covid-19 or a family member of the same household is in quarantine, do keep children at home while you await your results. If your child is showing any flu like symptoms or is feeling sick, keep him/her at home as well.
To the bus drivers, please remember that the protocols call for ten passengers and the wearing of masks by all passengers and drivers at all times.
COVID-19 is expected to be with us for some time, so let us continue to do what is right. To the general public, I ask of you, let us continue to follow the protocols, protect each other and take personal responsibility for our health and well-being.
The Department of Education continues to be vigilant and reflective on practice as we work in the best interest of our nation.