The new format for the full return to school by students on September 19, was the result of several consultations.
This was conveyed to students, parents and guardians today when Minister of Education, Technological and Vocational Training, Kay McConney addressed a press briefing, live streamed to the public, from her Ministry’s headquarters at the Elsie Payne Complex, Constitution Road, St. Michael.
The Minister explained that the new format was a decision taken following consultations with teachers’ unions, principals’ associations, principals, the National Council of Parents Teachers Associations and other partners. She further noted that the Ministry had also done so with the benefit of experience, over the last two-plus years of managing the educational environment with Covid-19, while navigating “the sometimes challenging waves of various instructional formats”.
Emphasising that the input of the Ministry of Health was paramount to the decision, she recalled: “Our intention has always been, and it remains, to deliver quality education that enables the best outcomes for students, while of course safeguarding health and well-being of our entire education community. You will recall that we went from online only instruction to blended or hybrid formats, where some classes were online and some were face-to-face; when classes took turns going to physical classroom spaces at school.
“We shifted students who were scattered across Barbados from learning in their informal living rooms to learning in formal classrooms again, when we returned to face-to-face school on February 21, this year. To respect the physical distancing mandate arising from Emergency Orders and Health Directives, students from the same school who were accustomed to learning together on one campus or location, were spread across multiple locations.”
Ms. McConney extended thanks to the private sector, churches and other faith based organisations, non-profit organisations and other institutional partners who provided schools with spaces, tents, platforms to put on the grass when the Ministry had to set up temporary structures, and “other covered facilities to make face-to-face school possible”, when the Ministry was “on the hunt for urgent accommodation”.
Also thanking her team and the public for supporting principals and teachers across the education system, she noted that together they “flexed, shifted and pivoted to make education accessible” and the learning environments safe, from nursery to tertiary levels.
“We did well together before, Barbados, and we can do well together again. The final term of the last academic year 2021-2022 served as our testing ground for necessary protocols; and it provided the Ministry of Education with the opportunity to monitor and evaluate the effectiveness of systems and processes within schools that could serve to protect all persons on our school compounds. “I trust that we will enter this coming academic year that’s officially starting in nine days, with the confidence that we are capable of maintaining safe and wholesome environments for learning and development,” said Minister McConney.