Principals Assn head says: Schools can open but...

PRIMARY School Principals’ Association president Lance Mottley called for people not to panic in light of the spike in covid19 cases in schools.

In a phone interview on Tuesday he said at this point, the majority of principals are in agreement with re-opening of schools on September 1, but there is a need for thought, analysis and conversation as to how schools will function on reopening.

“The language that is being used (when speaking about schools closing because of covid19) is fuelling a level of anxiety. There is a concern from the principals over the number of positive cases being students, but we believe there is a lot of hype involved.”

He pointed out that although ten schools have been closed – since primary schools reopened on July 20 to facilitate Standard Fives sitting the SEA exam – only one school had a student there who later tested positive for covid19.

In July, a standard 5 student of the Maraval RC Primary School tested positive for the virus. Chief Medical Officer Roshan Parasram confirmed the student came into contact with 76 other students and 12 teachers. They were considered as primary contacts of the student and put on a 14-day home quarantine.

Mottley said the other nine schools were closed out of an abundance of caution, because the students were primary contacts of people who tested positive for covid19.

Mottley said that coming out of a meeting with education stakeholders on Monday, it was agreed that the SEA exam should be held on August 20, as the Ministry of Education suggested.

However, he said as far as the opening of schools in September, a lot could change between now and then and his association continues to be guided by the ministries of Health and Education.

However, he knocked those ministries saying whenever questions are asked about the procedure for the reopening of school in September, each ministry claimed to be guided by the other. “To me, that’s passing the buck!”

He said there are a number of possible scenarios being suggested for the procedures which need to be followed for the September 1 opening of schools, including hybrid shift systems and blended classes, but thought has to be put into how schools will operate.

“I cannot say how we will function with some students being home come September once the country reopens. Supervision remains an issue.

“If the country reopens and our students are home who will supervise them? Even in blended classes, who is going to monitor their learning while studying online?”

Secondary School Principals’ Association president Ronald Mootoo said the spike in cases has prompted principals to beef-up procedures in schools. He said CXC written exams are complete, and students will only have to do oral exams, where social distancing and sanitation procedures will be observed.

“We have temperature scanners in each school, we educate and advise students on washing their hands and social distancing, and we consistently sanitise schools,” Mootoo said. “Our principals are very strict in our procedures.” He said while he expects school to reopen in September, they may not be opened in the traditional sense, citing the same possible strategies of blended classes, rotating classes and hybrid shift systems.


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