Some of the new school monitors going through their orientation session at the Wildey Gymnasium today. (E.Walker/MRD)

Some 240 school monitors will begin their duty of care to this island’s children from tomorrow, Wednesday, October 7, having been educated about their role and functions by the Ministry of Education, Technological and Vocational Training during an orientation session held today at the Wildey Gymnasium.

First referenced in the Throne Speech by Governor General Dame Sandra Mason and alluded to last month by Education Minister, Santia Bradshaw, as coming in a fortnight, the monitors will be assisting with the enforcement of the COVID-19 protocols, as well as aiding principals and teachers with the students on the compound.

Acting Chief Education Officer, Joy Adamson, speaking to the Barbados Government Information Service, noted that Cabinet approved 240 school monitors. Stating that the monitors were assigned wherever possible to a school in their community, she further outlined their roles and responsibilities.

She stated: “Generally, they are assisting with enforcing the COVID-19 protocols, which include assisting at the gate with taking temperatures, hand sanitising and monitoring persons coming on to the school compound. They are to assist the teacher wherever possible to help with the physical distancing and the wearing of masks and obviously to ensure that students comply and that visitors or persons on the school comply with the physical distancing.

“The monitors will also assist with giving directions at arrival and dismissal times so that we don’t have any congestion at the entrance and the exit to the school. They will be assisting at lunch time and helping teachers to maintain protocol so the latter can concentrate more on the classroom work and the teaching and learning process. They will also be patrolling and monitoring the corridors and restrooms and assisting on the playgrounds.”

Emphasising that the Ministry expects all monitors to respect the confidentiality of information on or about the schools, the Acting Chief Education Officer added it was important to hold the orientation session in order to ensure monitors understood their role; that of the principals and the expectations of the Ministry of Education.

The school monitors were briefed about COVID-19 and the requirements of the health protocols, including their own proper wearing of masks and how to take temperatures, from Director of the COVID-19 Monitoring Unit, Ronald Chapman.

They also learnt about deportment, behaviour, effective communication and team work from Director of the National Transformation Initiative, Dr. Allyson Leacock; and Creating Positive Interactions with Children, from Senior Education Officer, Janice Reid. 

Mrs. Adamson, while also pointing out that this orientation was the first of several meetings, revealed that it was the Ministry’s intention to continue the training with the monitors.

She expressed gratitude to the monitors and noted that it was good to have them in place as the Ministry anticipates their presence will help to alleviate some of the tasks that the teachers would have had.

“We would like to thank all of those persons who would have volunteered; we know that there were some parents who would have gone into schools within the last two weeks and would have volunteered at the schools. And, we really want to thank persons for coming forward with that level of volunteerism, assisting the schools at this particular time, during this pandemic,” Mrs. Adamson said.  

The 240 school monitors will not only have to adhere to the COVID-19 protocols, as issued by Government, but will be expected to also model “good behaviours” to their charges at the nursery, primary and special schools. They will also be issued with T-shirts, clearly identifying them to all and sundry.

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