St Clair ‘Jimmy’ Prince, the minister of education
When students return to school next Monday, they must wear masks as part of a list of protocols to ensure their safety in the school environment.
It was announced recently that local schools will physically reopen on May 25 for students sitting external examinations; fifth formers, Grade 6 and TVET students.
And St Clair ‘Jimmy’ Prince, the minister of education outlined on radio yesterday, a list of protocols that will be employed in this period to ensure the safety of students and teachers.
“We have procured masks and gloves to be used primarily by the janitorial staff. A limited quantity is available for use by students and teachers; hand sanitizers and liquid soap have been purchased for use in the schools,” Prince said.
The education minister said lunch will be provided for Grade 6 students who are willing to participate in the school feeding programme.
But all students are advised to bring their lunches with them so as to avoid leaving the compound to look for food and as a way to maintain social distancing.
Prince also highlighted other protocols that seek to ensure social distancing in schools.
“Schools are asked to have flexible breaks. Of course, this is necessary. You wouldn’t let everybody come out of the school at the same time, so that they will have that appreciation for social distancing,” he said. “Students doing particular subject disciplines will be required to be present, only when those subjects are being taught, so even if we have a whole form five, you wouldn’t find everybody coming to school at the same time.”
He also encouraged teachers to use auditoria and open spaces to conduct classes.
And staff and students will be asked to remain at home and report if displaying flu symptoms.
As it relates to staff and students with underlying health conditions, they will be asked to engage in lessons via the virtual classroom.
Prince said that persons on the school compound will be asked to wash their hands upon entering classes.
“Parents are asked to provide hand sanitizers and face masks for students to use when commuting to school. So we’re asking everybody to take part, come on board and help out in this way,” he said.
The minister said that his ministry, in conjunction with the ministry of health, has planned very carefully to ensure the health and safety of all persons.
He said that it is hoped that in August or September, there will be a further phasing in for students to return to school.
“…We can’t predict the future, but we’re hoping we will have everybody in school very soon, but we have to be very careful, very cautious, we have to follow protocols, take all advice we have to take and ensure there is safety at school,” he said.
When schools reopen on Monday, classes will begin at 9:30am and end at 2:30pm.
The minister also noted that specialised buses will also be employed to transport students on specialised routes to come into Kingstown for school.
“Right now, the ministry of education is consulting with the ministry of transport for us to get those buses running. You will hear more about this in terms of which route will have the buses…maybe by the end of the week, you will know that,” Prince said.