By Kadeem Joseph
A final decision on whether or not schools will reopen to face-to-face learning in September has not yet been made.
According to Cabinet Spokesperson Melford Nicholas, discussions over the matter are still ongoing but a final determination is still up in the air.
Nicholas did, however, mention that there have been several requests made by a few private schools to operate if the announcement is made that schools will rely on virtual learning modalities.
“We have certainly been presented some cases where some of the private schools indicated that nearly all of their faculty has been vaccinated and in accordance with that they believe if any consideration is to be given about schools remaining closed and going onto an online format that consideration would be given where it can be demonstrated that the faculties are 100 percent vaccinated that they be allowed to continue in person schooling,” he said.
“While we have not taken a decision, the Minister of Health has indicated a likely support for that particular look at the resumption for school but we have not yet completed the process of making a determination for September.”
Nicholas added that if the operations of public learning institutions are curtailed, it would be to the lower levels as was the practice in the past, which saw students in Grade 6, 5th form and those doing CAPE attending classes at school.
With the upward swing in Covid cases in the country, many residents, mostly parents, have been airing their concerns publicly on letting their children be in an environment where the risk of contracting the virus is heightened.
The latest Covid results revealed that of the 119 active positive cases now in the country, seven of the cases range from ages one to 11 years of age and four of the cases from 12 to 17.
There is, however, some relief for parents as the government has announced their intent to begin the roll out of the Pfizer vaccine next week.
This vaccine is the only one presently on island that has been authorised for children aged 12-17 to take.
Nicholas also maintained that there will be no mandate on the government’s side to vaccinate children but instead will leave that authorisation up to the parents or guardians.
“Inoculation of the student population comes only with the support or expressed consent of the parents or guardians in these circumstances. There will be no mandate for schools at this particular point in time,” Nicholas said.
Anyone interested in pre-registering for the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine which will be available to all residents including children 12 years and older can do so by calling 788-8299 or 780-8461 on Mondays through Thursdays from 9am to 4pm and on Fridays from 9am to 3.30pm.
Parents or guardians for pre-registered children will receive a follow-up notification advising of the date and time for which they have been scheduled.