STUDENTS in Saint Lucia are expected to return to the classrooms on Monday January 11, 2021.
This, as the Minister for Education Hon. Dr. Gale Rigobert calls on the general public, parents, guardians and students in particular, to be mindful that they are still to take all of the necessary precautions and obey the protocols, to minimize any further spread of Covid-19.
In October of 2020 schools here were closed abruptly, due to the number of new Covid-19 cases at the time. The Department of Education worked with all schools and stakeholders then, on a successful continuity plan which saw students being engaged in virtual learning and mixed modalities.
During this period, the Department also worked on modifying its plan for the reopening of school in January, guided by the advice of the Chief Medical Officer and the department of health. Consultations were held with all stakeholders including District Education Officers, Principals, Teachers and their representative body the Saint Lucia Teachers Union.
Following these discussions, a thorough plan for the reopening of schools in January was accepted by all parties. School Janitors and cleaners were asked to report to work from December 28-31, 2020, to ensure the proper sanitizing and cleaning of schools ahead of the opening on Monday January 4th for teachers and administrators in this instance.
On Monday morning (January 4th 2021) Minister for Education Hon. Dr. Gale Rigobert addressed a meeting of stakeholders, including District Education Officers (DEOs), Principals and Heads of Departments. The sensitization exercise also served as a review to ensure that everything was in place for the safe return of students to their classrooms next week.
During the week January 4-8, teachers are expected to be at their various schools for school term planning, meetings with the CMO and to receive psycho-social support, facilitated through counsellors.
Dr.Rigobert reiterates her and the Ministry’s commitment to ensuring that our children and educators are afforded the requisite “tools” and a conducive environment to facilitate the academic growth and development of our children. “The health and safety of our students as well as that of our teachers and staff are of paramount importance and we want to continue to remind all that the position is still very much fluid and so we will continue to monitor things on a daily basis. However, I want to reiterate that we must continue to obey the necessary protocols,” Dr.Rigobert says.
As per the protocols that were established for the reopening of school in September, all small school populations will operate using the “whole school approach”.
Schools that were on the “alternate days system” will ensure that students get at least three days of face-to-face instruction per week/cycle. This will be supplemented using the “distributed learning model”.
Where possible, students of kindergarten, grade six and fifth form students, shall have face-to-face instruction for the entire school week/cycle.
Sporting activities at schools are limited to small group physical engagements and non-contact sporting activities. Additionally, mass crowd gatherings at schools are not allowed and students and school staff upon the return to the school premises must adhere to the established protocols which include temperature checks, sanitizing of hands, physical distancing and the wearing of masks.