PRO of The Movement for Concerned Parents Shamila Raheem has said parents are pleased with the Minister of Education’s decision to allow all students, vaccinated or not, back out to the physical classroom.
In a phone interview with Newsday on Thursday, Raheem said, “This is something we were passionate about…We have been advocating for this for some time; ever since the minister announced that only vaccinated students were allowed to return to school.”
Minister of Education Dr Nyan Gadsby-Dolly said, in a press conference on Wednesday, that all upper school students in forms four to six will be required to return to physical classes from Monday (October 25).
Gadsby-Dolly said teachers would no longer be required to teach online classes as all students must return to school. Vaccinated students in forms four to six students returned to the physical classroom on October 4 at the beginning of the school term.
Raheem thanked the minister for “taking control of her ministry,” and not allowing herself to be micromanaged by others. “If given the opportunity, she can do a wonderful job.”
She said there were many reasons why parents were uncomfortable having their children vaccinated, particularly reports of disruptions in women’s cycles.
She said parents are pleased as many students were not being taught after the Trinidad and Tobago Unified Teachers Association (TTUTA) instructed teachers not to engage in online classes if they were being asked to teach both physical and virtual classes.
She said, although parents were ready for students to return to the physical classroom, there were still some issues that needed to be taken into consideration.
She said there may be issues with spacing as some schools may not have the space to accommodate everyone without a shift system.
She urged the minister, however, to implement proper plans for the return of forms one to three students in January.
“Children are already challenged since the closure of schools with online learning and mental stress. Some of them don’t leave home at all.”
She also said because the announcement was made on such short notice, parents must now scramble to get supplies for their children.
“They’ve had three days to plan and that’s not fair. Come next year, put a proper plan in place. Work out a shift system so it can be done properly.”
Raheem also asked that the government consult with all stakeholders, not just larger, more recognised institutions, as smaller groups such as theirs have valuable ideas to add.
“We are asking of dialogue and consultation. We have nice ideas we would like to lend to the minister.”
She said many schools have noticed a low turnout of students, even those that are vaccinated. She said some parents still didn’t want their children mingling with other students since the vaccine was not a guarantee against contracting the virus.
She said turnout was especially low in government schools.
“Some emphasis needs to be put into government schools. That has always been the trend.”