The start of the new school term has been delayed by one week as the Ministry of Education, Technological and Vocational Training embarks on a massive cleanup of school plants, due to the ash fall from the La Soufriere volcano.
Term 3, for all students in public nursery, special schools, primary and secondary schools will now commence on Monday, April 26. This applies to both face-to-face and online classes.
Minister of Education, Santia Bradshaw, made the announcement this morning during an update on the reopening of schools.
The Trinity term was initially set to begin on Tuesday, April 20, with Class Three and Class Four students, preparing for the Common Entrance Examination, and Fifth and Sixth Form students, doing Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC) examinations, returning to physical school plants. Other year groups would be working online.
“As it relates to CXCs, as you know we would have prepared for students going back in who would have been doing examinations and in particular practical examinations and School Based Assessments (SBAs). The labs are obviously filled with ash at this point in time. And so, we have taken the position that none of the SBAs or practicals will be completed or conducted until the cleaning has been done at the respective schools,” Ms. Bradshaw stated.
She disclosed that Barbados’ Registrar for CXC was meeting with the regional body and other Registrars to discuss what was transpiring with Barbados, St. Vincent and other affected islands.
She added that within the next few “hours or days” students would be given further details on plans concerning their examinations.
Turning her attention to tertiary institutions, Ms. Bradshaw said the opening of the Barbados Vocational Training Board and the Samuel Jackman Prescod Institute of Technology would also be delayed by a week, due to the ash fall.
The Barbados Community College’s (BCC) Hospitality Institute, because of its small student roll, will reopen for face-to-face instruction on Monday, April 19, once the all-clear is given.
Additionally, students doing the practical components at BCC’s Eyrie campus are expected to return from Monday, April 26. This includes students enrolled in Health Sciences, Physical Education, General Education, Technology, Finance and Commerce courses. All other classes will continue online, in the meantime.
Classes at the Erdiston Teachers’ Training College and the University of the West Indies will also be facilitated online. All of the institutions are conducting extensive cleaning.
In terms of the Barbados Secondary Schools’ Entrance Examination or Common Entrance Examination, which was also impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Education Minister said it was still too early to say when that exam would take place.
She pointed out the Ministry was more concerned with the mental well-being of students at present with all that has been going on, than just setting a date for the exam.
“I think I’m on record as making it clear, the examination (Common Entrance) is not going to define these children’s lives, but what we do in terms of how we handle their ability to deal with the anxiety surrounding COVID and now, obviously, I think, as adults, we have to pay attention to what is happening….
“So, I think getting ready for an exam,… I think for most children at this point in time is the farthest thing from their minds. I think we just need to get the country back to a level of normalcy. And so long as we’re able to overcome this period, I give the assurance we’ll make some decisions very quickly and not just as to what we’ll do as far as common entrance, but generally in relation to online, and certainly in relation to the future for a number of our students,” Ms. Bradshaw explained.