PTA calls for ‘early plan’ for schools in light of new Covid variant

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By Shermain Bique-Charles

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With the new Covid variant sparking widespread concern and uncertainty, educators are calling for a thorough advance plan to be put in place to avoid further disruption and help keep children and teachers safe in the country’s schools.

Omicron – which was first detected in Southern Africa last month – has been designated by the World Health Organisation (WHO) as a variant of concern. The WHO warned that the global risks it poses are “very high.”

Cases have now been identified in more than 20 countries across the world, causing many to tighten border controls.

And now, the National Parents Teachers Association is ready to engage with key players in the local education sector to plan ahead for the new academic term in light of the threat.

Acting Secretary Diana Edwards-Martin is one who believes that prompt planning is crucial to meet the challenges head on.

“We need to plan early. This talk about a new variant, I don’t like the sound of that. I can’t go through this again. We are ready to engage to discuss how we are going to do this,” she said.

Martin, an educator by profession, said the past two years have been challenging on all fronts but the association has done its best to connect with the Ministry of Education, parents, teachers and students to provide them with the necessary tools to navigate their way through the pandemic.

Mother-of-five, and the PTA’s Interim President, Ayesha Lloyd said providing training for parents like herself who are still trying to adjust to the new norm should also be in factored into the plans.

Students in Antigua and Barbuda, much like the rest of the world, have spent many months at home due to the pandemic.

Lloyd said some parents just weren’t prepared for their sudden new role overseeing their children’s studies, explaining that going forward they need training with that, in addition to coping mechanisms.

“There were children who were left to do their work on their own. It caused a lot of emotional stress. Some parents expected their children to know certain things but they didn’t,” she said.

Observer reached out to the Director of Education Clare Browne who declined to give comments.

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