The draft guidelines for the reopening of schools for the upcoming 2021/2022 academic year by the Ministry of Education suggests students may have the choice of virtual or physical classes come September, depending on their circumstance.
The document, obtained by Newsday, was given to stakeholders on Friday to review and suggest amendments. Stakeholders met on Monday to consult with the ministry on the document and another meeting is scheduled for Friday.
The draft reflects changes to the current education system suggested by the ministry considering the covid19 pandemic and is not the final product.
The draft said the ministry would like to introduce a pilot virtual school system. “The pilot virtual school system is a unique option to cater for students who wish to continue the virtual system of learning as the main mode of schooling.”
It said considerations for virtual schooling is premised from the Education Act, Chapter 39:01, Section 78.
The act allows for virtual schooling in certain circumstances such as, “If, in the opinion of the minister, he is receiving satisfactory instructions at home or elsewhere; if he is unable to attend school by reason of sickness or other unavoidable cause; and if he is excluded from attendance under any written law.”
It said the system is being implemented as a pilot project for selected secondary schools in term one of the coming academic year, in the first instance.
“Schools interested in participating in this system will be required to submit an application showing how the educational needs of the students attending virtually will be met.”
The draft said in considering whether the arrangements are suitable, the ministry will assess whether there are adequate interactions with the students planned into their timetables and whether teachers are willing, trained, and available for interaction with the students for a stipulated period each week.
It said a written agreement must be obtained from the teachers who are willing to participate in system.
“Teachers participating must have access to functional devices and connectivity throughout the duration of the term one (and) a written agreement must be signed by the parents desirous of having their children attend school virtually.”
It also said schools must be able to cater for online students of the upper forms (secondary) to be rostered physically to attend school to satisfy orals/practicals/school based assessments (SBA) requirements.
“Parents or guardians requesting virtual schooling must complete and submit an application form.”
It said completion and submission of the relevant application form does not guarantee approval. “Selection of students must be on a case-by-case basis.
“All schools which have been granted approval are to submit names of students who applied, with a justification for those selected by August, 2021.”