Training Ministry making concessions to get face-to-face courses – NationNews Barbados — nationnews.com
Posted on February 16, 2022
Chief Education Officer Dr Ramona Archer-Bradshaw (GP)
The Ministry of Education will not live and die by the road map outlined to get children back to school for face-to-face classes on Monday.
Rather, there will be flexibility in dress and school hours, as well as a blended approach so children can safely learn in an environment away from home in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In a media conference on Tuesday evening, Minister of Education Kay McConney acknowledged there could be teething problems.
“As we update and outline plans to you, please accept that the transition back to face-to-face school may not be perfect. As humans, we were designed to learn while in motion and we therefore have to move with that certain knowledge into this face-to-face experience and bring with us, certainly, a can-do attitude …,” she said.
The newly appointed Minister said the aim was to get children into the classroom, especially the vulnerable groups and those who have to sit external examinations or do School Based Assessments, recognizing they may be behind regional counterparts who are already in school.
KEY POINTS: Ministry of Education Media Conference February 15, 2022
Chief Education Officer Dr Ramona Archer-Bradshaw went into detail, explaining the road map had three key components. These include plans for the safe, effective and efficient reopening of schools, sensitizing all partners in education about the requirement for this safe return and identifying the roles and responsibility for key stakeholders to ensure the safe operation of schools during the COVID-19 pandemic.
As such, schools will reopen in a phased manner on February 21, with strict adherence to distance of three feet, students must follow the protocols, including the wearing of masks – allowances will be made for mask breaks – and sanitising stations are a requirement on all plants.
While students are not required to be vaccinated against COVID-19, the Ministry also proposes to conduct random testing, starting in the third week of school, but only with the consent of parents.
Archer-Bradshaw asked for cooperation from parents, telling them not to send their child or ward to school if he or she is sick and run the risk of spreading the viral illness.
She also said uniforms would not be a strict requirement.
“We want all of our children to attend schools clad in their uniforms, but we understand the constraints that some parents may have, especially in the midst of the pandemic. Some parents may have lost their jobs, some parents may be working reduced hours and may not be able to afford a full uniform for their children or for their wards,” Archer-Bradshaw said.
She said principals would evaluate on a case-by-case basis and allow students to wear sneakers, games clothes or even jeans and a white shirt.
“The big picture that we have here is for every child to receive an education, face-to-face; not only face to face, but face to face safely. And once we keep that in mind, I am sure that we will make all of the right decisions with regards to educating our children.”
The Chief said the Ministry did not have the funds to place a monitor on each bus, and called on Barbadians to help with the observing of public health protocols when children are not on plant, helping the village to raise the child.
In the first phase, the most vulnerable who need to go back in the classroom are those in Nursery, Reception, Infants A and Infants B; Class 4 students who have to transition to secondary school; First Formers who need to experience the culture of the new school; Fourth, Fifth and Six Formers who have to do School Based Assessments and children with special needs.
Those in Class 1, 2 and 3 at primary level as well as Second Form and Third Form students at the secondary level will be in the second phase. The Ministry will also allow for flexibility, mixing face-to-face and online instruction, but each child must have five days of face-to-face classes in a two-week period. Schools will end at 2 pm, but again, allowances will be made for it to end earlier or later. (SAT)