All schools in the country will close as of Monday, education officials have just announced.
The closures are in direct response to the COVID-19 outbreak as the Ministry of Education seeks to mitigate the impact of its spread.
According to a release issued moments ago, all educational institutions – both public and private – in Antigua and Barbuda will close early for the Easter vacation as of Monday until March 27. The ministry says it will monitor the situation and, if the crisis persists, this may be extended beyond the Easter vacation.
The release states, however, that school leadership, teachers, cleaners, security, and all other staff are to report to their respective institutions on Monday and Tuesday (and Wednesday, if needed, and as determined by school) to implement coronavirus protocols in order to work remotely and prepare schools for cleaning and environmental adjustments for eventual return.
The Board of Education, with the support of the Ministry of Health, Wellness and the Environment, and the Ministry of Works, according to the release, will ensure all schools are equipped with additional hand-washing stations, soap, hand sanitisers, and so on for the eventual reopening.
In addition to other platforms already in use in schools, there are a number of educational platforms eligible for supplemental funding from the Ministry of Education for school-wide subscriptions. These include Google Classroom; IXL Personalized Learning; Moodle; Schoology; Edmodo; Sakai; Showbi; Castle Learning; iTunes U; Canvas; and Pearson.
The ministry further advises parents to “rigorously manage the whereabouts” of their children and to avoid gatherings of more than four or five people.
The National School Meals Programme will begin assessment to identify the most vulnerable students to continue to receive meals during this time.
The ministry also advises parents to stay informed through the following platforms: National Association of School Psychologist – https://www.nasponline.org/resources-andpublications/resources-and-podcasts/school-climate-safety-and-crisis/health-crisisresources; Responding to COVID-19 – https://openwho.org/channels/covid-19; Center for Disease Control and Prevention – https://www.cdc.gov; Preparing for COVID-19 School Closures – https://hbr.org/2020/03/how-working-parents-canprepare-for-coronavirus-closures.