WHILE the Ministry of Education guidelines refer to limited interactions when schools partially reopen on Monday, the ministry has said schools will have some flexibility to run their affairs in line with their particular culture.
Ministry guidelines have proposed a hybrid system for forms 4-6 entailing online classes for teaching to continue as far as possible; pupils to report to school to do practicals, SBAs and internal assessments; and physically teaching classes only where absolutely necessary.
But Newsday obtained a letter from a major government school in north Trinidad which said the selected pupils should be on site for the whole day, from 8.30 am-2.30 pm, rather than just visiting for a short time to do SBAs and labs and then leaving immediately after.
Any pupil wishing to leave before 2.30 pm must be collected by a parent and present a written request to do so, the school said.
Newsday contacted Education Minister Dr Nyan Gadsby-Dolly to ask if there was any contrast in the positions of the ministry and the school, and whether the ministry had set rules for schools to follow, or mere advisory guidelines which schools are free to ignore.
Gadsby-Dolly replied, “The ministry's guidelines allow room for schools to operate with their individual cultures within a framework – all schools are not exactly the same and cannot be treated that way.”
She said. for example, not all schools begin and end at the same time each day.
“Schools have their individual timetables, and any issues a parent has with this should be discussed with the form teacher, and ultimately the principal.”
Gadsby-Dolly explained the guidelines allow for schools to continue online teaching as far as possible and to do face-to-face teaching mainly for practical work.
“There is leeway for schools to have face-to-face teaching classes, but they should be minimised.
“The schools will also have to schedule more practical sessions due to social distancing, and this contributed to the length of the school day not being shortened.”
She said schools must submit individual plans to their school supervisors.
Newsday had originally asked this question on Wednesday at the Prime Minister’s briefing at the Diplomatic Centre, St Ann’s, where Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh suggested forwardimg the query to Gadsby-Dolly.