Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley’s address to the nation – April 22, 2021. (PMO)

High levels of volcanic ash on the compounds of schools have forced the Ministry of Education, Technological and Vocational Training (METVT) to delay the return to the physical classroom, yet again.

Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley made revelation this evening during her wide ranging address to the nation.

She announced that as a result, “school will commence online from April 27, with teachers being requested to report for duty online on the 26th of April”.           

Public schools were expected to reopen next Monday, after being postponed by one-week, mainly for face-to-face classes for primary and secondary students eligible to write the Barbados Secondary Entrance Examinations and those of the Caribbean Examinations Council.

This delay was to facilitate the removal of ash, which came from the erupting La Soufrière volcano in neighbouring St. Vincent and the Grenadines, under Government’s national clean-up exercise.

However, the Prime Minister indicated that more time was needed to permit the extensive cleaning of the compounds, based on the outcome of a meeting involving officials from the Ministry of Education and teachers’ unions.

She stated: “Given the state of clean up across the 74 schools, we are not yet ready to have children back into the school plant next week.

“To that extent, there were a number of issues that they confronted as they reflected. There was still high levels of dust in the environment. And even where cleaning had started, as many of us are discovering, the breeze is blowing dust back into areas at a high level, especially where there are big open areas, and most schools have pastures next to them,” she explained, noting that unpaved car parks and roadways posed a similar problem.

She added: “There’s also been a case of low water pressure, and in some cases, the unavailability of water at a few schools that affected the commencement or progress of the services.”

The Prime Minister noted students were already in a regrettable situation, given the disruptions to the education system over the past year, stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic.

 It was with this in mind that she appealed to parents and the wider society to provide them with a strong support system.

“I expect that all of the stakeholders in the Ministry of Education will work seamlessly to ensure that we are in a position, truly, to be able to reinforce and to close the gaps that might have existed over the past year, with respect to the education of our children,” Prime Minister Mottley stated.

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