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By Orville Williams

The consensus of the principals of some of the island’s most prominent secondary schools was positive, following the return of upper level students to the classroom yesterday.

The Ministry of Education mandated last week that schools would reopen on Monday for the necessary preparations and inspections, preceding the students’ return to the classroom yesterday. It was a largely constructive return for the principals of the Antigua Girls’ High School, the Princess Margaret School and the Antigua Grammar School.

Speaking on Observer’s Voice of the People (VOP) programme yesterday, Principal of the Antigua Girls’ High School, Theoline Croft, explained the happenings of their first day.

“It went very, very well, I must say, for the first time of putting all these protocols in place. All the young ladies followed the protocols by ensuring that they washed their hands [and] they had their temperatures checked by the nurse and another teacher and the temperatures were recorded. The girls were [also] given individual kits comprised of two face masks and a bottle of hand sanitiser.

“We are using utilising many classrooms on the compound. At present, they are spread over many areas. You have a maximum of 20 in the large classrooms and we have approximately 16-17 in other areas. We are [also] utilising our main auditorium for large classes of 40 and we have them six feet apart, so we are prepared for them,” she said.

Principal of the Princess Margaret School, Dr Colin Greene, also shared similar sentiments.

“We have had a good day so far. Prior to the day itself, a lot of effort went into executing the plans that we would have put together and we wanted to be in a position to provide information to the children ahead of time.

“So, we would have had Zoom meetings with all the stakeholders – the students, the parents – of course, we would have sent the protocol ahead of time to them and the ancillary staff and the administration would have been in ahead of time [and] worked right through the weekend to make sure all the protocols were set up,” Dr Greene said.

“Prior to entering the class, the class is sanitised and every student going into the class would sanitise their hands in the presence of the teacher. Once the class comes to an end, in our regular timetable, there is a five-minute differential between the end of one class and the start of another, so the cleaners simply go in that space [and] they again sanitise the [furniture].”

Sam Roberts, principal of Antigua Grammar School, disclosed that his experience was similar to the other principals, but with a few challenges.

“It’s actually been a great day; I think it’s gone as smoothly as I could have expected. With respect to social distancing, it went well, but these are students who haven’t seen each other in a couple of months, so there were those challenges with how the boys are going to be, but I think it went very well,” he said.

Unlike the other two schools, who had medical personnel on site to check temperatures, Roberts said this was one factor that they unfortunately did not benefit from.

 “I’d just like to remind that AGS does not have a stationed nurse at the school, so it really would be nice to have had that particular facility,” he explained, adding that temperatures would be taken by staff members assigned by him.

The students who returned to school this week are currently preparing for CXC exams, scheduled for July of this year.

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