Parents have expressed mixed feelings about the Minister of Education’s announcement that all forms four-six students, whether vaccinated or not, must return to the physical classroom on Monday (October 25).
In a press conference on Wednesday, held at the ministry in Port of Spain, Gadsby-Dolly said teachers will no longer be required to teach online classes, as all students must return to school.
Vaccinated students in forms four-six returned on October 4, at the beginning of the school term.
Zena Ramatali of the National Parent Teachers Association (NPTA) congratulated the ministry for deciding to bring all students back out.
“We are going to continue to monitor this new development,” she said. “I’ve had (positive) feedback from parents so far. They have reached out to say that this is what they wanted. Many parents cried discrimination for only vaccinated students to return to school. They wanted face-to-face.
“The fact that the ministry took our recommendations into consideration, I thank the minister for that. I hope this is the beginning of listening to the voice of stakeholders on the ground.”
A parent, who wished to be identified only as Rene, said “I am extremely elated that school is reopening.
"However, what would be the protocol for a classroom with 30-plus children? Would the unvaccinated children need to do some type of test every day?”
She also questioned where parents would find the money for materials after having been home for so long and with some parents without work.
“Why not continue online schooling for the rest of the year and start fresh in January? Now parents who are working for less than minimum wage and must pay for rent, food and bills, now must find money to send children back out to school. As much as we want them back out, we need a grace period to get the materials.”
Newsday contacted president of the Trinidad and Tobago Unified Teachers’ Association (TTUTA) Antoina Tekah-De Freitas, who said she was unable to give a statement on the announcement. She said she was meeting with members on Wednesday afternoon and would prepare a statement for the public after the meeting.
Newsday also tried to contact the president of the Association of Principals of Secondary Schools Sherra Carrington-James and chairman of the Association of Denominational Boards of Education Sharon Mangroo, but they could not be reached for comment.