Secondary Entrance Assessment (SEA) students – standards four and five – will not be allowed to return to schools for the new term.
Upper-form secondary school students are the only students allowed to have physical classes still.
The Ministry of Education announced this in a press release on Tuesday.
Previously, Education Minister Nyan Gadsby-Dolly said SEA students would return to school if the covid19 numbers remained low, but over the past weeks there has been a spike in cases.
Schools will reopen for the third term on April 12.
Students in forms four to six will have physical classes for practical subjects only. These include practical sessions, school-based assessments (SBAs) and internal assessments. Face-to-face classes will only be held when absolutely necessary.
All other secondary, primary and early childhood care and education centre (ECCE) students will continue with their online or package systems. The ministry said all educational material will continue to be provided via television, radio, print media and online for student and parent access.
Carlene Hayes, president of the National Primary School Principals Association, said she supports the ministry’s decision, as the students’ and teachers’ safety comes first.
“We believe it is a good idea as the covid19 cases continue to rise.”
She hopes that, like last year, primary schools will open for the SEA students a month before the exam. She also hopes the device distribution for standard five students continues.
Hayes is lobbying the ministry to equip schools properly with hand-washing stations at the entrances, thermometers and cots for sick bays when the schools do reopen.
The TT Unified Teachers Association (TTUTA) is meeting with principals from different schools to hear what their members have to say about the decision to keep most students home.
TTUTA president Antonia De Freitas said the health and safety of students and teachers must be first priority and unless schools are properly equipped to facilitate students, then calling them out would not be safe.
Among the health and safety regulations the ministry outlined was for students with flu-like symptoms to be isolated in a sick bay. De Freitas said some schools had problems with such facilities even before the pandemic.
“We are concerned not just for students and teachers, but schools have physical issues. They are not able to have proper water or have space like a quarantine bay. We will speak with teachers and work with the ministry to get what is best for students and teachers.”
Interim president of the National Parent Teachers Association Zena Ramatali said the group is meeting on Saturday with parents to hear their views.