Minister of Education, Technological and Vocational Training, Santia Bradshaw, sought to address the concerns of parents about the protocols for students returning safely to the classroom, during a press conference this evening at IIaro Court.
In relation to parents and guardians being kept informed about what was taking place at schools, she disclosed: “The school alert app should be able to be rolled out later this week to allow our various schools to use that to communicate directly with our parents, and certainly the general public on alerts and notices that may need to go directly to their phones as well.”
Minister Bradshaw touched on the matter of students not following the mask protocols. “…For the most part, a lot of our students are wearing their masks and abiding by the various protocols. I would urge parents to use this exercise as a learning curve … if the students were not wearing the masks before. Again, I implore you to require your students, as they’re going to school, to have their masks available, and also to adhere to the protocols in the schools.
“We have to pay attention and greater attention to the protocols, and therefore it is important that students adhere to the mask-wearing, not just in this classroom, not just outside of the corridors, but they need to adhere to it on the way to school; they need to adhere to it on the way from school. At the bus stops when they’re walking, they need to, obviously, especially if they’re in groups of other children and they’re talking, they need to adhere to wearing their mask. It is the only way to ensure that we can keep our communities, but also our students safe in the school environment,” she underscored.
She added that wearing the mask was very important as well as following the basic protocols of hand sanitisation. “And certainly, keeping your distance, three feet distancing. Schools are actually quite safe in relation to other spaces and the key is that the protocols that are in the schools are actually even at a higher level than in some other places as well. So, for the most part, we consider this school environment to be relatively safe,” the Minister stressed.
Ms. Bradshaw also spoke about the required and acceptable distance between students in the classroom. “As it relates to concerns regarding the three feet versus the six feet spacing in the classroom, we have determined based on all of the international guidelines, all of the advice from the Ministry of Health and Wellness, that the three feet rule will remain for the most part across our schools. It has allowed us to be able to have more students having the face to face, and so long as the protocols are followed, at this stage, there is no reason for us to determine otherwise.”
Ms. Bradshaw also assured parents, teachers and students that the utmost would be done to ensure that all safety protocols would be enforced through the Ministry of Health and Wellness’ COVID-19 Monitoring Unit. “We have a team in place …which is dedicated to the school system. They will also be at the bus stops; they will also be working with the principals and the teachers to make sure that any concerns which they may have can obviously be addressed in short order, but I urge Barbadians not to panic. You know, it’s okay to be anxious, but right now we don’t need to have this fear,” she stated.