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Chastanet Takes Government to Task for Re-opening Schools but Ministry of Education Stands Its Ground

The Ministry of Education, Sustainable Development, Innovation, Science, Technology and Vocational Training is standing its grounds on its decision to open schools for face-to-face learning amid rising COVID-19 cases and a groundswell of public opinion against the decision.

And to show that it is on top of the situation the Ministry this week informed the general public that it has been continuously monitoring the COVID-19 situation and the impact it is having on the school system.

“We continue to be reflective of procedures and practices in the interest of the health and safety of all of our stakeholders of the school community,” noted the Ministry in a statement.

Leading the charge against the decision to have face-to-face learning in schools is Opposition Leader Allen Chastanet who said “the government is working in reverse and must begin to take decisions while also looking at the impact of those decisions on the future.”

“If the government cared about the reopening of school in January we would not have seen this laissez-faire attitude to the protocols in December,” noted Chastanet.

The former prime minister believes that government does not have a plan to effectively tackle the pandemic despite having a blueprint to do so, left to government by the previous administration.

“We worked hard during our time to establish solid policies for schools operating during COVID-19. What we needed to see was the foresight ahead of the Christmas season that would have minimized the impact on schools and the economy. If the government thought reopening schools was important then some sacrifices should have been made for the longer term benefit. That is what leadership is about,” Chastanet declared.

The Ministry suspended classes Thursday and yesterday saying that this was based on stakeholder engagements and consultation, and further stated that during the week of Monday, January 24, 2022, to Friday, January 28, 2022, face-to-face instruction will continue for Early Childhood Education Centres, Grade 6 students, Form 5 students, and Vocational and Tertiary Institutions.

“All other groupings will revert to the distributed learning approach as per the Continuity of Learning Plan,” the Ministry stated, a move which seemed to have pleased the National Principals Association (NPA) which expressed its satisfaction with the decision made by the Ministry to adjust the school hours.

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