The Ministry of Education has said students in forms one-three and standard five will return to the physical classroom on February 7.
In December 2021, Minister of Education Dr Nyan Gadsby-Dolly announced that lower forms and standard five students preparing for Secondary Entrance Assessment (SEA) exams would be allowed to return to face-to-face classes in February.
With the increase in covid19 cases, particularly the omicron variant, there has been some concern among parents and stakeholders that the government may decide not to move forward with its return to the physical classes.
In a release on Monday afternoon, the ministry confirmed the long-awaited date for the physical school return of lower forms and SEA students.
It said students forms one-three or equivalent are required to return to the physical classroom on a rotational basis.
“The details of this arrangement for each school will be communicated to parents and students by principals, but all students should be required to attend school physically at minimum two days per week, and five days in a ten-day cycle.”
It said students who are not rostered for physical classes are to be assigned asynchronous assignments.
“It is recognised that since February 2021, many teachers have been assigning asynchronous work for forms 1-3 as they straddle both online and physical classes.
“Teachers have and will continue to receive guidance and training in methods for maximising hybrid teaching approached such as the flipped classroom, so that the effectiveness of asynchronous classes will be maximised.”
The release said standard five students are required to attend school physically from February 7-March 29, 2022, 8.30 am to 2 pm, four days a week, to prepare for SEA on March 31, 2022.
“On Wednesdays, teaching should be virtual to allow for thorough school cleaning.”
It said for the duration for the academic year, schools will be mandated to relax school uniform requirements.
It also said the school feeding programme, which has been operating since the beginning of the term, will continue to be available to eligible students in physical attendance and school transport will resume when attendance numbers are finalised.
The release said detailed guidelines will be sent to schools and made available to the public.
It said the ministry, in its several consultation meetings with stakeholders over the last three months, recognised the differing views on the return to physical school and how it should be implemented.
“The major concerns centre around the safety of all school personnel, and the quality of life and education to which the children of TT are exposed.”
It said physical teaching and learning has been shown to be most effective for our ECCE, Primary and secondary school students.
The results of the SEA and CXC examinations in 2021, when compared with those of 2020, have shown decreases in student performance consistent with the learning loss predicted owing to the absence of students from the physical classroom during the pandemic.
“The results of the Diagnostic Tests in Math and English Language which all public schools administered in October 2021 also identified gaps in student achievement across levels in these fundamental areas.”
Students have been engaged in virtual classes since the onset of the pandemic in March 2020.