Cognisant of the impact of the lack of face-to-face instruction on primary and secondary school students, education officials have been engaging stakeholders on the best approach to the return to the physical classroom in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.
During a wide ranging press conference today, Acting Prime Minister Santia Bradshaw lamented the situation, as she expressed concern about the steady rise in new cases, which have seen all classes being held virtually.
“It pains me to have to know that our children are not able to get back into the school environment…. And while we have, with the help of the Ministry of Health and Wellness, looked at thresholds to be able to help all of our schools move back to a level of normalcy, the truth of the matter is that, especially at the public school level, we’re going to have to do a bit more in order to allay the fears of the parents, teachers, unions, principals and certainly allay the fears of the children,” she stated.
Ms. Bradshaw, who is the Minister of Education, Technological and Vocational Training, further disclosed that she would be meeting with the National Council of Parent-Teacher Associations to discuss several matters with parents. These include: general concerns, online learning, and plans to improve the school plant to facilitate social distancing.
“It isn’t to say that we are avoiding the issue of education. Right now, as you are seeing coming out every single day, we are as concerned as you are about these numbers. And so, where schools and the management and teachers and parents have come to a position in terms of a threshold, where teachers are vaccinated and parents are comfortable, we will work with them, through the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Health and Wellness and the COVID-19 Monitoring Unit, to allow students to be able to go back to school.
“But that is a work in progress, and so while that is our intention, the truth of the matter is that we are charting a roadmap to be able to get us to that point,” she explained.
The Acting Prime Minister also implored Barbadians to get vaccinated and adhere to the public health protocols, noting that this would be beneficial to the country as a whole.
“We’ve seen an uptake in the vaccine among our teens and our preteens, but we need to get the numbers up so that our young people can get back to school. We also need to get our adult population vaccinated, so we can get back some degree of normalcy,” she stated.