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Phased reopening of school for Trinity Term

Sherrylyn Toppin

Phased reopening of school for Trinity Term
Minister of Education Santia Bradshaw (GP)

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Barbadian students preparing to write examinations will be back in the classroom on April 20, 2021.

Via a Ministerial Statement and subsequent press conference on Thursday evening, Minister of Education Santia Bradshaw announced the return to face-to-face teaching for the Trinity Term. Students in Class 3 and 4 at primary school and the Fifth and Sixth Formers at secondary level were given the nod ahead of their peers, but no date is on the table for the Common Entrance Examination.

Teachers, ancillary staff and school monitors will report one day earlier.

“We have determined that the priority for this return to school, this phased return to school, has to be the students who are preparing for examinations. It doesn’t mean that the other students don’t matter . . .,” Bradshaw said during her statement.

“But it is important that we recognise, especially in relation to students that are preparing for the Common Entrance, that there are already high levels of anxiety that these children face and we all know what I am referring to.

“It is almost as though the exam determines a student’s life because we are all accustomed to hearing that your school determines what you will be; but the reality is, it doesn’t,” Bradshaw said.

“And what has to be now more important than ever is that we have to pause and to recognise that these students need to get back into a face-to-face environment so that our teachers are in a position to be able to assess exactly where they are in terms of the loss of instructional time.”

Similarly, the senior students writing Caribbean Examinations Council examinations will also benefit from being in the classroom.

The date for the 11-Plus exam is still to be determined and Bradshaw said all students who feel they are not ready, including those at the senior level, can apply for deferral.

All others will return to school on a phased basis. The recommendation is three days face-to-face and two online.

“The dynamics of this situation may very well change as they did on the last occasion. And if for any reason our numbers improve and the positivity rates are better, it is our hope in the Ministry of Education and certainly the Cabinet of Barbados, that we are able to integrate more students into the classroom environment for Term 3.”

Nursery school students will also be back in school on a phased basis to be determined by the Ministry and principals.

In addition to the mask breaks – which are especially important for those with respiratory conditions – school will be shorter, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Bradshaw said a dedicated team from the COVID Monitoring Unit was assisting with this return and in the four weeks before school resumed they will apply the necessary tweaks. (SAT)