Parents bring their children to school under the new back-to-school protocols. (C.Pitt/BGIS)

The first day back to school, in the COVID-19 environment, has reportedly been a smooth one at schools across the island.

Chief Education Officer (Ag), Joy Adamson, revealed this yesterday as she updated media representatives on Day One of the new Academic Year 2020-2021, at the Ministry’s headquarters at the Elsie Payne Complex, Constitution Road, St. Michael.

Mrs. Adamson alluded to reports reaching the Ministry and noted that these had revealed that “most things had been smoothly run at our schools”.

The new academic year has started and children are prepared with their masks as part of the new Guidelines for the Safe Operations of Schools in Barbados. (C.Pitt/BGIS)

However, according to her the main complaints related to issues at the entrance of schools – “in terms of the taking the temperature and coming into the schools”. While acknowledging it was a new process and “obviously there will be some delays there”, she, nonetheless, gave the assurance that the Ministry was working with some principals to determine how the process could be sped up.

The Acting Chief Education Officer, reflecting on what Ministry officials had heard and seen while on tour, said: “Generally, students were very excited to be back at school; teachers were very excited to be back at school. I had the privilege of visiting some primary schools and all of the officers of the Ministry of Education would have gone out today and visited schools; we have no adverse reports except we had to close one school early so that we would have some remedial work completed at that location. But everything should be ready for tomorrow (Tuesday, September 22.

“As you can appreciate, we have been doing a lot of cleaning and remediation at our school plants and therefore there are things that obviously we will have to continue to work on.”

Mrs. Adamson also noted that she had been in consultation with the presidents of the Barbados Secondary Teachers’ Union and the Barbados Union of Teachers and they had also reported “no adverse reports”. She further noted they had promised continued consultation and communication with the Ministry “to highlight any problems so that we will be able to rectify them as they are identified”.

This student is being checked before entering on the first day of school. (C.Pitt/BGIS)

The Acting Chief Education Officer also updated media representatives on the status of some schools, which had encountered delays. Noting that the Ministry would have said there would be one more day for some remedial work and some cleaning to be completed and give teachers an opportunity to set up their classroom, at some schools, Mrs. Adamson said: “I am pleased to announce that the St. Matthews Primary School, the St. Martin’s Mangrove Primary School and the Half Moon Fort Primary School would be ready for the students tomorrow.”

However, it was disclosed that some other schools would start midweek due to delays. In explaining the situation at those schools, the Ministry official said St. Philip Primary and St. Stephen’s Primary schools would experience delays until Wednesday, September 23.

“At St. Paul’s School, we have quite a few areas that we still have to address and the cleaning still has to be completed and the forms set up, so, what we have decided, … is that there will be online teaching for the St. Paul’s Primary School’s students for the rest of the week in the morning half. So, that will allow the teachers to then go to the school plant to set up so that school can start from Monday face-to-face.” The Chief Education Officer (Ag) stated that the Ministry would continue the monitoring process with officers going out every day, and also extended gratitude to teachers, other staffers at the schools and parents for working with the Ministry to see the reopening of the various school plants and students back in the classroom.

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