If schools cannot follow covid19 safety guidelines with a full school population, a shift system will be put in place for the next academic year.
This was among guidelines in a Health Ministry document issued on Monday.
The cycle system proposed a 50 per cent student capacity, which will mean creating two groups for each class, who will go to school on alternate days.
“A school that has a five day timetable…will then have a ten-day cycle (and at) schools with a six-day cycle, a 12-day cycle will have to be done.”
The cycle will alternate the days each group (labelled A and B) attends classes.
The document said said while group A will continue classes on day one, group B can access online material at home. The next day will be day one for group B, while group A uses online material at home. The following day will be day two for group A, continuing the cycle.
“Should the physical distance requirements at any time be such that the capacity is further limited, an increased number of groups can be formed,” the guidelines suggested.
They also said a "blended learning" approach will also be implemented, so on days when students are home, the regular timetable can be followed. "Blended learning" refers to a mix of learning methods and media.
“Teachers can organise for students to log on to pre-recorded lessons, videos, assignments, worksheets and other online resources on relevant topics.”
The guidelines also said while the Ministry of Education aimed at 100 per cent participation in online learning, a survey by the ministry both students and teachers were challenged by connectivity issues and/or access to electronic devices.
It said to ensure no child gets left behind, teachers are encouraged to re-teach topics in which students had missed classes taught online because of these issues.
“Rooms with computers and internet access, example computer labs and libraries, should be made available to students to access online activities at scheduled times during the day or after school,” it said.
The guidelines said the ministry is working on issues surrounding accessibility to devices and internet by all students and staff as well as educating parents on their role in supporting children in the new blended system of learning.
In addition to the “New Normal” guidelines which have already been implemented nationwide, the document also outlines classroom sizes, timetabling, psychosocial support, and a "blended learning" system.
Changes to classrooms for the next academic year include physically distanced seating six feet apart, based on the current recommendations from the Ministry of Health for CSEC and CAPE examinations taking place now. The guidelines stated the Ministry of Health will determine the physically distancing requirements when schools reopen.
President of the Secondary Schools Principal Association, Ronald Mootoo said he is happy with the guidelines.
“Right now, it is actually what we would have indicated to the ministry we would like for them to give out, so it is satisfactory.
“There will always be one or two instances as we go along that we would have to negotiate, but for now, the guidelines are sufficient.”