Zoom classes stop for at-home form 4, 5, 6 Fatima students

Fatima College principal Fr Gregory Augustine. -
Fatima College principal Fr Gregory Augustine. -

Fatima College principal Fr Gregory Augustine says unvaccinated students from forms four to six, who are unable to attend physical classes from Monday will continue to receive class material via the Google Classroom platform, but Zoom sessions will be discontinued.

In a telephone interview on Wednesday, Augustine said he was made aware that people were saying the school planned to end virtual classes altogether, but this is not the case.

“The online education continues,” he said. “Junior school, from forms one to three, will have their normal Zoom and Google Classroom as usual.

“Those who are here (in physical classes) will receive face-to-face education and those who are home will receive their education through Google Classroom.”

On Wednesday, parents had taken to social media to complain after a meeting with the principal on Tuesday night where Augustine explained the new procedure.

He said notes, exams and assignments will be posted on the platform for students.

“I’m not understanding all the talk. That was made very clear to 700 people last night.”

Augustine said schools cannot realistically run efficiently in a parallel system where teachers must engage students in both the physical and virtual environments.

“That’s pie in the sky. We’re not opposed to it, but we live in the real world.

“We’re not punishing anybody. After much discussion with staff, this is what we have come to. Clearly it is not the best. The best thing is in person. Any parent will tell you that.”

Augustine said the school would never abandon its students.

“Our responsibility is to everybody.”

He said while most parents understood the circumstances, there were a few who were very vocal in their disagreement.

He said Fatima is not the only school having problems balancing the physical and virtual classrooms.

“Ask any institution. There are hundreds of people. It just can’t work.”

Augustine said over 75 per cent of the school population is vaccinated. Of the 16-member staff, over 50 per cent is vaccinated.

Education Minister Dr Nyan Gadsby-Dolly told Newsday via WhatsApp, “Principals are required to submit their school reopening plans and their methods to extend educational materials to those who are not at school physically.

“However, schools have the flexibility to make decisions on what is possible based on their individual circumstances. This will vary from school to school, subject to subject, and teacher to teacher.”

TT Unified Teachers Association (TTUTA) president Antonia De Freitas said the association told the ministry on September 14 that it was not feasible for teachers to balance the physical and virtual classrooms.

“We identified reasons why it was not feasible, and the State went ahead and did what they had to do and, therefore, parents will have to deal with it.

“If the ministry’s policy is that only vaccinated students can be on the compound, then it will follow that no unvaccinated student would be allowed to do any labs (or) exams, and if the school is willing to uphold that decision and perpetuate inequity and disenfranchise the students, then I guess they will have to deal with the consequences.

“The parents will have to utilise whatever interventions to ensure that their students are not denied education.”

Responding to social media claims that teachers are hosting a “virtual blackout” to protest the return to the physical classroom, she said she had not received any reports of that.

“Teachers have been wanting to go back to school for quite some time. We are just concerned about the children. However, there has to be a level of efficiency by the employer.”

She said teachers are probably disgruntled by the lack of consideration being given to them.

“We have not had any discussions with our members about going or not going (out to school). School is expected to open on October 4 and the ministry’s mandate is that teachers have to report for duty.”


"Zoom classes stop for at-home form 4, 5, 6 Fatima students"

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