Education officials begin consultations on reopening of school plants

Information Minister Melford Nicholas (file photo)
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By Carlena Knight

With the reopening of secondary school plants pinned for October 18, the question of how the teaching/learning process will proceed is at the forefront of everyone’s mind.

This determination will no doubt pose quite a challenge for officials in the Ministry of Education to decide.

Director of Education Clare Browne, while speaking on state media yesterday, revealed that consultations have begun and will continue throughout the coming days to arrive at a solution to the problem.

He admitted that it will be a challenge for them to decide as the law stipulates that no child should be denied an education.

“That is very much in our minds and we need to look at how it would be if we open schools with all students, vaccinated students and unvaccinated students. That is one possibility. Or do we continue schools for vaccinated students only, and the third thing, are we going to reopen schools for vaccinated students and unvaccinated students who are not eligible for the vaccination and then the big question, the million-dollar question — what happens to the students that are eligible for vaccination and just have not had the vaccine. So, we have a lot of things to mull over,” Browne explained.   

He mentioned that the safety of the students is paramount and has to be considered while determining how exactly schools will reopen.

Browne also spoke on the fact that there are not a lot of options besides remote learning to consider, especially for unvaccinated students. That option, however, has in past times come with its own challenges and, according to Browne, is really just ‘second rate learning’.

“There is no one model that you can take from somewhere. Online learning would have had its challenges but we continue to do the best we can because if it is not remote learning then what? What is the best option as the safety of our students is the important thing?” Browne asked.

“Exclusive remote learning is second rate learning because there are so, so many challenges and then if parents are not at home to sit and guide and ensure that children are in their electronic learning environment, then the children might be there, or you see them log on and they aren’t really paying attention,” he added.

Nevertheless, the former educator has pledged that they will make the best with what they can now as educating the nation’s youth and ensuring their safety must be upheld.

However, he mentioned that everyone has to play their part to bring back some level of normalcy for schools and this means abiding by the various covid protocols and even getting vaccinated.

“All of us must play our part. The whole country, in order for our schools and the children of this country to get this education that they so rightly deserve to have, all of us must play our part. We have to wear our masks because it is our epidemiological situation that is going to change and create and bring back some measures of normalcy in the new normal, so the very simple things, wearing our masks, washing our hands and most importantly taking the vaccine; we can’t afford to be selfish, and I respect people’s views and I do understand, too, but sometimes we have to take one for the team and I urge this nation to take one for the young people of this country,” Browne appealed.

A recommendation, according to Browne, will be made following the talks.

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