Safety measures in place for reopening of schools
– stringent protocols in place to protect dorm students
With schools scheduled to reopen on Monday, January 4, the Ministry of Education says the protocol remains the same for students in Grades 10 to 12, who are returning for face-to-face engagement. However, stringent measures would be put in place to ensure those residing in dorms are kept safe.
Minister, Hon. Priya Manickchand made this statement during an interview with DPI on Wednesday.
She noted that many students who were residing in the dorms returned home for the Christmas holidays. So understandably, precautions will have to be taken to ensure no student returns with COVID-19 since some of them are from communities where there are positive cases.
“We expect the timetabling and everything to go as it was in this term. For dorm students, it’s going to be a little bit different again because we have to determine that nobody is coming back into the dorms with an infection or with a positive COVID result,” Minister Manickchand said.
Meanwhile, during his COVID-19 update on Thursday, Minister of Health, Hon. Dr Frank Anthony said meetings were held with Regional Health Officers and Regional Education Officers to plan for their respective regions.
“From the health perspective, we have sent out enough test kits and this includes both antigen kits and PCR kits to the regions for all students who are coming in the dorms that we will be able to test them.”
Minister Anthony also said mechanisms have been put in place for PCR tests to be returned to the laboratory quickly for analysis.
“I think the plans are well in advance, and some of the students we understand that start coming in from Saturday, some on Sunday some on Monday. So, as they come into the different dorms, we have mechanisms in place to be able to start doing the testing.”
Dorm students will have to test negative for COVID-19 before they are placed in the general dormitories. Students who test positive for the disease will be placed in isolation.
Minister Manickchand also pointed out that while the Government has taken initial steps to ensure the safety of students, teachers and other staff, the onus is on each individual to safeguard themselves from infection.
The Minister said students from Grades Nine and below will continue to learn using the methods that were used during the previous term, whether through virtual classrooms, radio, television or worksheets.
“So, if in the Christmas term teachers were teaching on WhatsApp at Grade Five and Grade Six and Grade Three, on [January] 4th we expect teachers to begin teaching on WhatsApp again and parents to have their children ready for that. If teachers were teaching through Zoom, on Grade Three, Seven and Eight level, on the 4th we expect teachers to be teaching again and for parents and children to be receptive to that.”
Minister Manickchand also urged parents to ensure that the necessary support structures are in place to ensure their children have access to education.