Unvaccinated students to be afforded remote learning; parents reminded of responsibilities under the law

Information Minister Melford Nicholas (file photo)
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By Orville Williams

[email protected]

Eligible students who remain unvaccinated against Covid-19 will be allowed to continue their learning via remote methods, until the point that they become inoculated.

That is the latest declaration from the government, following word that, effective yesterday, “any secondary school student who has failed to receive the Covid-19 vaccine…shall not enter onto the premises of their schools until vaccinated”.

When that announcement was made on Wednesday, some parents immediately voiced concern about what would happen to the unvaccinated students, considering the numerous disruptions they have experienced over the past several months.

Cabinet Spokesperson, Information Minister Melford Nicholas, confirmed the remote learning option yesterday, adding that the necessary systems are largely in place for that option to be accessed immediately.

“I suspect that the Ministry of Education and the education officials may have to do some fine-tuning in terms of how they allocate resources to be able to deal with that, but at the start of these engagements, the ministry had presented several different scenarios [where] they would have either all remote learning or the hybrid that they are now utilising,” he said.

“So, I think it is within the context of the ‘Level Two’ that they’re doing, that they should be able to accommodate those [unvaccinated] students in a non-face-to-face environment.”

The minister also reminded that, despite the temporary regime that allowed unvaccinated students to access face-to-face learning over the past weeks, the initial direction was to allow only vaccinated students into the schools.

“The break in transmission came when, because of the delay in the supply of additional Pfizer vaccines, we were faced with a situation where we couldn’t provide [those] vaccines based on the demand.

“We gave, based on some extreme pressure from the Ministry of Education, consideration that while we’re awaiting the arrival of the vaccines, we would take on the additional risk of having [unvaccinated] students go back to school in the face-to-face learning environment.”

Now that the vaccines are available, he said, there is no excuse for any eligible student to remain unvaccinated, hence the return of the initial position.

That being said, Nicholas advised parents that they are expected to ensure their children access an education, whether that is via remote learning or by permitting them to get vaccinated and return to the classroom.

“There is a legal requirement placed on parents by the Education Act, that their children should be educated, at least up until the age of 16; the Education Act mandates that.

“We’re satisfied that good sense will prevail and that [the parents] will do what is necessary over the coming days to ensure that they’re doing the best for their children, as we are trying to do for them,” Nicholas said.

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