COVID-19 Update and Press Conference – May, 9, 2021. (PMO)

Plans for the phased return of students to the classroom will move to another stage from Tuesday, May 11.

This follows the return of nursery school students, those attending special classes/units/schools, along with Classes Three and Four primary school students, and fifth and sixth formers to the classroom last week.

They will continue face to face tomorrow, Monday, May 10, while all other students will remain online.

Minister of Education, Technological and Vocational Training, Santia Bradshaw, disclosed this evening that there were 26 small primary schools which were prepared to take in all of their students on Tuesday, May 11.

Meanwhile, four larger primary schools – George Lamming, Arthur Smith, Hilda Skeene and St. Stephen’s Primary – will also see a return of all students to the classroom, but in a phased approach.

“The reason for this is that we want the teachers and the students [to have] enough time to settle, each of the year groups, before bringing in another year group,” the Minister pointed out.

She further explained that all primary schools would use a blended approach for students, which meant some days they would continue to have classes online and other days there would be face-to-face classes, like in Term One.

As that phase rolls out, Class Two and Reception students are expected to return to the classroom on Tuesday, May 11, followed by students in Class One, Infants A and Infants B, on Thursday, May 13.

With respect to the secondary schools, Minister Bradshaw said 16 out of 21 principals requested that no other classes be phased in face to face next week, mainly due to a lack of space on the school plants.

This, she explained was to allow fifth and sixth formers time to complete their module tests, their labs and practicals. “They pretty much are using a number of spaces, and therefore, it is desirable that they have the full rein of the school plant at this point in time,” Ms. Bradshaw noted.

Meanwhile, second and lower fifth students at the Daryll Jordan Secondary School, and first and second formers at the Grantley Adams Memorial School will return to the classroom on Tuesday, May 11, as they have a smaller number of students writing exams.

“Principals will inform the other forms when they will be allowed to return to the school,” Ms. Bradshaw said.

She added that students writing the Caribbean Examinations Council Mathematics examination at Queen’s College, Christ Church Foundation School, and The Lodge School will be advised of their days to attend face to face this week by their principals.

Minister Bradshaw said that if there were any changes to the classes, teachers and principals would reach out to parents directly.

“Let me just say here that it is imperative on parents to ensure that they’ve updated the contact information available to our schools, especially in this environment.

“I know that people are moving around, but the truth is that we need to make sure that our schools can reach out to you as quickly as possible….  In the event that we have to do any kind of contact tracing, it will assist the Ministry of Health and Wellness greatly, if we have up-to-date contact information on the file,” she said.

The Minister acknowledged the fears of teachers, students and parents following a positive result of a student last week.  However, she stressed that the country could not continue to exist in fear, but should ensure that all necessary protocols are followed.

julia.rawlins-bentham@barbados.gov.bb

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