By Elesha George
A decision to resume classes for students sitting Caribbean Examinations Council(CXC) exams, has gone ahead as planned, all with the exception of two private secondary institutions.
The Island Academy and the St Anthony’s secondary schools have reported to the Director of Education Clare Browne that their students have completed their School Based Assessments (SBAs) and will be continuing their lessons online.
The director welcomed the good news and said focus should now be on the other students who are required to complete their SBAs by the end of June.
“It was heartening to hear that some schools are already finished with the syllabus, finished with SBAs and are just consolidating and are waiting for the examinations,” Browne said. “Now, there are other schools that will not be able to say that because they offer different types of subjects.”
Officials from the ministries of Education and Health supervised the cleaning and disinfecting of secondary school plants on the island over the weekend. In Barbuda, the director disclosed that all rooms to be used by students were inspected and sprayed with sanitising solution on Tuesday.
“The Ministry of Education with the Board of Education, the Antigua and Barbuda Union of Teachers and the Central Board of Health would have inspected all secondary school plants Monday, May 18. By and large, we are generally satisfied with what we would have seen in most of the institutions,” Browne said.
About 1,456 students are expected to sit the various exams in July, though all are not required to present SBAs. As for those who returned to school today, all safety precautions and transportation requirements were put in place.
Network Manager for the Government Motor Pool, Arif Jonas, told Observer that he foresees some initial challenges with the school bus system, none-the-less the established protocols will assist them to fine-tune their schedules.
“The schools don’t necessarily know 100 per cent how many students are going to be coming on which day; at this point we don’t know how many students we’re going to be transporting,” he admitted.
He also shared a number of changes that have been established to ensure the safety of students and the teachers who will be utilizing the school buses.
“Especially in the return trips from school during the day, we are actually planning to take the students to the villages, to their homes. We’re not going to be taking them into the city to traverse and to find their own way home,” he said.
In addition, pick-ups will be coordinated with individual schools. According to Jonas, “Many of the schools have slightly different schedules, so we are going to have to be as flexible as we possibly can to ensure that we are working with the individual schools”.
Pick-up was expected to begin from 7 o’clock this morning to facilitate 12 students per 29-seater bus. Fifteen of the 42 available buses were deployed today and provisions have been made for three extra drivers to be at the motor pool if needed.
“If we have to make double trips tomorrow, we will do that but I don’t want to call all of my staff out and then Thursday morning, have to send half of them back. If we do need more staff, of course, we will be calling out additional persons,” Jonas explained.