In-person classes could return to schools possibly before year-end as the Ministry of Education finalises a “road map” for the resumption, Chief Education Officer Dr Ramona Archer-Bradshaw declared Friday.
As the ministry accepted 41 mobile-capable tablets and other school supplies from CIBC First Caribbean International Bank, she said the ministry is well aware of the importance of getting children back into the classrooms.
The Michaelmas term to start the 2021-2022 academic year with students moving to new forms and schools is fully online. But the education chief said although COVID-19 is still very much a threat, plans for physical instruction are underway.
Dr Archer-Bradshaw said: “All in all at this time, it is about evaluating the risk, and while we know for special needs children and children three to five years old that it is ideal to have the face to face classes, it is not safe at this time.
“We are working on a road map at present that will allow our children to get back to the face-to-face environment. As soon as we are finished that road map, we will share that with you and we will all know, the requirements for getting back to face to face [classes].
“We are very much aware the COVID-19 pandemic is not going anywhere, so we are trying to tool and re-tool to provide a safe space for our children.”
Dr Archer-Bradshaw stressed that although the ministry currently has a target date in mind on when in-person classes could possibly resume in some capacity, the resumption was completely dependent on the level of daily COVID positive cases dropping significantly.
She said: “The Ministry of Education continues to be guided by the Ministry of Health and Wellness with regard to safety. We are looking at the number of cases and so on, and once they are able to give us the go ahead, we will be ready to do so.”
The Chief Education Officer added that vaccination rates for secondary school students from age 12 as well as teachers was also being taken into consideration with any future decisions made on when face to face lessons can resume.
During the presentation of school supplies, Debra King, Director of Corporate Communications at CIBC FirstCaribbean, told attendees that this morning’s donation was part of a $25,775 donation to two schools, Springer Memorial and St. Martin’s Mangrove Primary, for their online learning platforms.
King also revealed the bank is also repurposing decommissioned laptops from the company’s branches all over the region to give them to students in need of devices.
She said: “We also have another initiative where our decommissioned laptops and desktops across the region, are being donated as they become available to schools, to other social organizations that facilitate education and community outreach, to allow them to access services. That is an initiative that has seen hundreds of devices donated right across the 16 countries in the Caribbean where we operate.” (SB)