All systems are in place for the Secondary Entrance Examination (SEA) examination on Thursday, says THA Secretary of Education, Innovation and Energy Marslyn Melville-Jack.
In a WhatsApp response to Newsday on Tuesday, Melville-Jack said the Division of Education, Innovation and Energy has conducted the necessary training for exam supervisors and centre managers, and all 39 centres have been prepared.
"Yes, we are comfortable with the protocols which have been instituted in light of the pandemic. All examination centres have been sanitised and arrangements are in place for the taking of the temperature of the students and the necessary hand washing."
She said there are 1,062 students writing the examination –522 boys and 540 girls.
"Three students applied for deferral for the SEA 2021. Two students were granted approval and one student was not. The student who was not granted approval was due to the lack of space at the school to accommodate the student in the upcoming standard five class."She believes the students are well prepared in the midst of the pandemic. "Teachers gave of their best given the challenges encountered. The Division of Education, Innovation and Energy provided support through training for teachers, the provision of laptops and tablets for students."
She had some advice for the students.
"Observe all the health protocols, wash hands, wear masks and keep the recommended distance. You are also responsible for your personal safety. Get to your centres early, calm your anxieties, have faith in your God and do your very best."
Melville-Jack's optimism is not shared by TT Unified Teachers Association (TTUTA) Tobago officer Bradon Roberts who expressed concern with the arrangements.
In a telephone interview with Newsday on Tuesday, Roberts said: “I cannot agree that all systems are in place; it is not likely that all systems would be in place.”
He said TTUTA Tobago met with the division on Monday to discuss covid19 safety protocols.
“We had a very good meeting where we were able to highlight some areas that are to be covered, some contingencies that should be put in place and so on, but to say that all systems are in place, I don’t think we are close to that position.”
Roberts added: “I know the division would do their best to see how high the implementation of a standard the safety protocols would be at so that we would have minimal risk and increased comfort on the day.”
He said in terms of the protocols established, it is all well on paper, but its implementation is where the problem would be.
“There needs to be enough guidance given to those persons who have key roles to play, especially at the entry protocol and even considering the contingency; should rain fall – how would they mange that? Should they have a suspect case or even if you have more than one suspect case, how do you deal with it? So those guidelines need to be clear."
He said there is also concern over the vaccination status of invigilators.
On June 9 at the post-Executive Council media briefing, Melville-Jack told reporters that all invigilators who wanted the vaccine would be facilitated.
“There is a bit of a dishonesty taking place with it," Roberts said.
"There was a rush to get persons their first dose last weekend, but that would not have the person fully vaccinated. The efficacy would not be at any high enough level of protection based on what would have been discussed, but there are persons who would have got their first dose, there are some persons who would have gotten their second dose – which is not two weeks out where they are fully vaccinated in time for the exam.”