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Principals confident that schools are ready for students’ return

Principals confident that schools are ready for students’ return
A school building being sanitized ahead of the scheduled May 25 re-opening date.

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by Bria King

Having spent the past week overseeing the retrofitting and cleaning of school compounds, principals are confident that schools are safe and ready to receive children, come Monday, May 25.

Form five, Grade six and TVET students are expected to return to school next week for face-to-face engagement with teachers as they prepare for external examinations.

This will be the first time since March 20 that schools in St Vincent and the Grenadines have been physically open for instruction, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

And principals are confident that things will go smoothly, due to the implementation of several protocols that are meant to ensure safety of the students.

“We are prepared, we are ready for school. Our Grade 6 [students] have been separated in several different rooms. We have approximately eight to ten rooms which will house between 10 to 15 students each; some more, some less,” Suzette Abbott-King, the principal of the CW Prescod Primary School told SEARCHLIGHT this week.

She said that there are roughly 100 Grade six students and they will be separated throughout the classrooms so as to ensure physical distancing.

She said that her management team has been engaged and teachers have already been preparing for students’ return in a number of ways.

Abbott-King said that the school’s environs have been scrubbed clean and sanitized, and that the Ministry of Health had facilitated the fogging of the compound.

The principal added that BRAGSA is expected to install extra sinks to allow for more frequent handwashing.

“We have our hand sanitisers, we have our soap, we have our paper towel; everything for the students. We are encouraging the parents though, to do their part in supplying the students or child / ward with the necessary PPE (personal protective equipment) in terms of the mask and hand sanitisers et cetera,” she said.

She also appealed to parents to give children lunch, but said that lunch will also be available through the feeding programme for parents who may not be able to supply their children with a packed lunch.

Juliette Alexander, a teacher at the school and member of the management team at CW Prescod also endorsed the principal’s words, agreeing that they are ready for the reopening of school on Monday.

When SEARCHLIGHT visited the Kingstown Preparatory School on Wednesday, they were in the process of setting up the classrooms with adequate spacing to allow physical distancing among students.

Susan Abraham, the principal of KPS said that the Grade six students will be separated into between nine and 11 students per classroom.

BRAGSA was on the compound installing additional sinks for the students’ use.

“The ministry gave us cleaning agents and they have to measure out with water. They have already done that kind of cleaning, for the past two weeks,” Abraham said, referring to her janitorial staff.

KPS was also fogged by the Ministry of Health.

At both of these schools, persons are not allowed onto the compound without masks and students are expected to wear masks when they return to school, as advised by the Ministry of Education.

Other principals at various schools in the country have also expressed similar confidence as they too have taken similar precautions in preparing school compounds for the return of students.

In anticipation for the reopening of schools next week, the Ministry of Education has rolled out a set of operational safety protocols.

The guidelines emphasise cleanliness of schools, personal hygiene, physical distancing and the treatment of sick persons at school.

“The Ministry of Education asserts that the protocols were designed in the best interest of the nation’s children and with overall consideration for public health. All stakeholders are urged to do their part in ensuring a safe tenure for all,” a release from the ministry said.

Education minister, St Clair Prince said this week that there will hopefully be a phased reopening of schools for other students later this year.

But until then, all students are expected to remain engaged via e-learning platforms.