THA Secretary of Education, Innovation and Energy, Marslyn Melville-Jack has said she is comfortable with the health and safety protocols implemented at schools.
On Monday, Melville-Jack visited five of the nine secondary schools on the island as the transition to face-to-face learning began for secondary school students of forms four to six.
She led a team of officials from the division to schools such as Roxborough Secondary, Mason Hall Secondary, Harmon School of the SDA, Pentecostal Light and Life Foundation and Signal Hill Secondary. They sought to assess the preparedness of the schools with health and safety protocols and arrangements for students and teachers on their return.
Speaking with the media at Signal Hill, Melville-Jack said she was pleased with what she saw.
“What I saw is a valiant effort by principals, teachers and students alike to ensure that the reopening was a success. They did great achievements in ensuring that health protocols were adhered to. I think we’ve done well here in Tobago,” she said.
She dispelled the notion that all fourth, fifth and sixth formers were expected to return to school on Monday, saying she was impressed with the individual principals' timetabling. She said classes are small and parents have been told to pick up their children at the end of their classes.
“We have small numbers coming out at a time. The practicals were done, orals and labs; these are primarily the aspects of the curriculum that we are focusing on at this point in time...
"At the end of the day, I think parents can feel satisfied. They can feel comfortable that the environment has been well prepared, and the students have promised that they would ensure that the protocols are observed so that they can feel comfortable sending their students out to school,” she said.
As people entered the school grounds, the security guards did temperature tests and while along the corridors, hand sanitisers were installed, along with sinks. The students were all physically distanced in the classrooms.
Melville-Jack said what is still needed is sneeze guards and those would be put in place at cafeterias as soon as possible.
She said when she went into the classes that were in session, all the students were wearing their masks, and said they were happy to be back at school.
But she told them: "They have a personal responsibility to make sure that today was successful. They did vow that they would continue wearing their masks, that they would continue to social distance and that they would ensure that this test drive would be one that continues for some time,” she said.
She said as a parent she feels comfortable and all parents should feel secure that the environment has been well prepared.
“I am really satisfied that when you come out (to school), you are in a safe place. We have the safety officers out in their numbers, all the cleaners ,who would be sanitising rooms as soon as one class is finished – we have people working to sanitise those desks before another class comes in. So at this stage, I feel very comfortable,” she said.