A date has been set for the 2020 Barbados Secondary Schools’ Entrance Examination – Tuesday, July 14.
After being postponed from its original date, Tuesday, May 5, because of uncertainties stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic, Barbadians were told this evening by Minister of Education, Santia Bradshaw, that over 3,300 primary school pupils will sit the exam in a little less than two months.
Additionally, parents and students were informed that all Class Four students will make a return to the classrooms from Monday, June 15.
Ms. Bradshaw said the phased reopening of schools would be done while observing established protocols set out by the World Health Organization and the Pan American Health Organization, including physical distancing.
She explained that the decision to set a date for the exam, popularly known as the Common Entrance Exam, was not an easy one and came after consultations with all of the stakeholders.
As for the return to physical school for Class Four students, the Education Minister explained: “In preparation for the exam, while we have prioritized the devices to Class Four students, so that they can continue to maintain their contact with their teachers, we also recognize that there are some students for whom having the face-to-face contact prior to the examination, especially after such a prolonged absence, certainly would be beneficial to them. And as such, we propose to integrate all Class Four students only into primary schools from June 15, giving teachers four weeks contact time with students in order to prepare them for the examination.”
In the meantime, Ms. Bradshaw said that the Ministry would be addressing the matter of sanitizing schools for students to return.
She added that the Ministry of Education, Technological and Vocational Training had preliminary discussions with UNICEF to assist in the phased reopening of schools.
This partnership will include the provision of masks for pupils and teachers as well as sanitizing materials, and the provision of proper markings for students to observe physical distancing in the classroom.
The Minister noted that accommodations would be made “school by school” to ensure the required six feet of distancing was respected by all.
“So, while we plan for the actual day of the examination with a set of protocols being put in place, we are equally looking at the protocols that will be necessary to govern the return to class of the Class Four students into their respective environments,” Ms. Bradshaw pointed out.
She also disclosed that some secondary school students would be returning to school to complete or submit their Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC) CSEC and CAPE School-Based Assessments, which were interrupted due to the abrupt end to the last school term, following the first confirmed cases of COVID-19 here.
“So, we’ve determined that we will allow those students as well to return to school to complete their SBAs, and that will also be followed with the appropriate protocols for the moderation of those exams, and for all of the physical distancing and other requirements that will need to be put in place. We are grateful to CXC for working with us as well as the health officials to ensure that students can return in a safe environment, and have some degree of certainty as it relates to the examination,” the Education Minister stated.
She assured parents and students that they could expect more information on what to expect for the return to school through a number of public service announcements, which will be rolled out soon.