The decision to allow form four, five and six students to return to face-to-face classes from October was based on a measure of risk, Minister of Education Dr Nyan Gadsby-Dolly said during an in-depth discussion on TTT on Monday night.
Gadsby-Dolly said, “The Prime Minister spoke to the imminent return of our older the students, those who are able to be vaccinated, because that will lower your risk for them, And you would have heard him speak to the mandatory vaccination status for them to come out to school because, again, interacting with the public, and not just the teachers in the school, but there are other persons in schools...their taxi drivers, or people who they might buy something from (in) a shop."
All these people interact with those students, and, she pointed out, "We don't know their status, if they are vaccinated or not.
“So that is why it's all a measure of the risk. That's why that cohort would have been asked to come out first, and also they are the ones that are facing exams.”
Gadsby-Dolly briefly touched on some of the ministry’s plans to develop online learning to make the leap into digital transformation much easier.
She said the ministry met with stakeholders last week where they discussed the investment in a robust online management system to properly equip teachers with the necessary devices, resources and training needed for effective online teaching. This plan includes strengthening the ministry’s education technology unit and procuring e-books.
“...As (far) back as 2006 the ministry was making strides to move towards digital education.
"However, we are in 2021, and it really took the pandemic, and that period of having to move to digital, that allowed us to make strides that we would not have taken in the next 20-30 years. So therefore, digital transformation and cashing in, and holding on to the gains that we've made now, that is one of our main areas of focus."
She said teachers, students and parents had done very well in emergency mode for online learning.
But, she added, "The gold standard of organised online learning is a learning management system where you have teachers (who) own a classroom, and all the work is laid out is prepared, they can do e-quizzes with their students, they can do e-testing in a more fulsome and productive way.”