STUDENTS across the country will be breathing a sigh of relief come Monday, as they will be going back to their respective schools after a year or more of experiencing a learning environment never before experienced prior to the emergence of the coronavirus.
While it is hoped that the new school term will not have the same level of disruption as experienced in the past year, officials of the Ministry of Education are standing by, prepared to do what it takes to handle any situation that may arise.
Distributed learning using various modalities at educational institutions has been the norm over the past year.
But as explained by Chief Education Officer Dr. Fiona Phillips-Mayer, much consultation took place with stakeholders before an agreement was reached for schools to resume physical operations for the third term of the 2020/21 academic year.
She said that while students will return to the physical setting as of Monday 19th April, 2021, paramount importance will be placed on their health and safety as well as staff and support staff. Health and safety, Mayers said, have been integral to the physical plants preparation. Further, the Department of Education, Innovation and Gender Relations will continue to rely on the guidance of the Ministry of Health and Wellness, to ensure that classes are conducted in a safe environment.
“Educational institutions will operate from Monday to Friday based on the established school hours. Some schools will adopt the Whole School Approach based on physical infrastructure and school population. Thirty- four schools will operate using the Alternate-Day system. A six-day cycle will be used, thus providing at least three days of face-to-face instruction to students.
“Mass crowd gatherings are not permissible at this time. Sporting activities are limited to small group physical engagement and non-contact sports,” the Chief Education Officer said.
She noted that educators are encouraged to engage in prior preparation to ensure a smooth reopening and delivery of classes at schools island-wide. And that the Department of Education, Innovation and Gender Relations will continue to engage stakeholders when necessary, as the situation with respect to COVID-19 remains very fluid.
“Our goal is to ensure that students receive the required instruction and support during their educational journeys,” Mayers said.