Virtual teaching begins this week at primary, secondary schools

Robert Jacob, standard four teacher of the Barataria Anglican Primary School, conducts an online orientation and revision class with his pupils during the first day of online classes at his school on Monday. - ROGER JACOB
Robert Jacob, standard four teacher of the Barataria Anglican Primary School, conducts an online orientation and revision class with his pupils during the first day of online classes at his school on Monday. - ROGER JACOB

Although virtual classes were set by the Ministry of Education to begin on next Monday with this week reserved for orientation of students and parents, many schools will resume virtual classes this week.

School principals confirmed the reopening of both primary and secondary schools. ECCE students also began their lessons on Monday, as the ministry rolled out special programmes for infants on television and print media.

President of the Secondary School Principals Association Ronald Mootoo estimated below half of secondary schools started classes on Monday, most of which are the denominational schools, and are already reporting high attendance.

“Most of the teachers have access to devices (but) we are still trying to put things in place for students without connectivity or devices.”

He said, starting from Wednesday, more classes would gradually resume, with one or two year-groups.

“By Monday we will all be on stream.”

Class hours, he said, are being guided by the Ministry of Education, between the recommended hours of 8 am to 2.30 pm.

He said the ministry advised four sessions per day as a minimum, but some schools are having up to five, with a duration of one hour per class and half-hour to one-hour breaks in between.

Contacted for comment, CEO of the Catholic School Board Sharon Mangroo said “There was supposed to have been orientation last week for classes starting today. Some schools needed a little more time with teachers because they needed training on the platforms they were using.”

She said class hours are flexible, with many teachers adjusting the ministry’s recommendations to suit the needs of their students.

“Some teachers are arranging to meet with their students after their parents come home (from work), after hours. Teachers in different schools are doing it differently.”

President of the Primary School Principal’s Association Lance Mottley said Minister of Education Nyan Gadsby-Dolly indicated 70 per cent of schools were ready to start this Monday, and already have.

“All schools are supposed to be fully engaged by Monday, September 14.”

He said while most schools are following the guidelines issued by the ministry for class hours, any combination of hours within the 8 am to 2.30 pm framework can work.

“The ministry provided guides (but) schools are adjusting to suit their contextual needs.”

Mottley also said because students have been away from classes since March, teachers and students are tired.

“Screen time is draining and very demanding for both teachers and students.”

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