Environmental issues associated with large amounts of dust and ash on the island have left education officials considering hiring external assistance to supplement the work of ancillary staff at public schools.
Minister of Education, Technological and Vocational Training Santia Bradshaw is however rejecting the notion that her ministry was in some way unprepared for the face-to-face resumption of school on Monday.
She revealed that a massive effort from the Barbados Defence Force (BDF) was underway to prepare the Blackman and Gollop School for classes as early as Thursday. This is one of the only schools that has not yet been reopened.
“We were prepared in the sense that many of the schools have been cleaned. Some of them were also still getting the final touches being done to them, but I also indicated to the country that the reality is that just as in our households, dust keeps coming back into the home environment, that we would experience certain things in relation to the school environments as well,” she told reporters.
“We had some challenges where windows may not have been properly sealed. As a consequence, even though the rooms were cleaned, we had a situation where dust came back into the classroom. Some of those things are unavoidable. We expect that during the course of the term we are going to have additional persons to assist the ancillary staff to be able to do the ongoing cleaning, especially for those schools where we have the ‘breeze blocks’ or where we have areas that are prone or more susceptible than others to the flow of dust coming from the outside.
“So schools that are on our main roads as you can appreciate, those are going to continue to have to get continued cleaning to be able to reduce the flow of dust coming into the school,” she added.
After months of online learning, primary and secondary school students were further delayed when the eruption of the La Soufriere Volcano in St Vincent and the Grenadines blanketed Barbados with ash.
The Blackman and Gollop Primary School was the site used by the Ministry of Health and Wellness to provide additional isolation facilities for COVID-19 patients earlier this year.
In a statement issued this evening, Acting Chief Education Officer Joy Adamson said the work at the Christ Church school had been completed and classes would resume tomorrow.
“Face-to-face instruction will therefore commence for the Class 3 and 4 students from tomorrow, Thursday, May 6, 2021. Teachers will contact Class 3 students for further direction.” (KS)