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Schools set to resume face-to-face learning

Schools set to resume face-to-face learning
St Clair “Jimmy” Prince


All schools in St Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) are set to reopen with face-to-face learning for the new academic year.

This is according to education minister, St Clair Jimmy Prince who gave details on the reopening of schools in response to a question posed in Parliament yesterday.

“…All things being equal, all schools are to reopen in full from Monday 31 August, 2020 for the start of the new academic year. Teachers’ Professional Development Week will be held from August 17th to the 21st, 2020. The mid-term break will be October 25th to the 30th. The first term ends on Friday, 11th December, 2020,” Prince said.

Schools closed on March 20 this year, one week ahead of the scheduled Easter break due to the presence of COVID-19 in this country. Since then, students have received instruction via several online platforms.

Those sitting external examinations, which included Grade 6 students, fifth formers, and students from Technical Institutes, returned to school in May and June, with increased protocols, to prepare for their examinations.

The education minister said yesterday that the current status of COVID-19 in SVG was taken into consideration when setting dates for the physical return of students to the classroom.

He said there was no community spread of the virus locally and that all cases to date have been imported.

“…There is a well-managed quarantine and contact tracing system in this country, very well managed and we have the capacity for rapid in country testing and ongoing testing and surveillance to detect any other exposure not related to travel,” Prince said.

The second term of the 2020/21 academic year is expected to begin on January 4, 2021 and end on March 26.

Schools will then reopen for the third term on April 13, which is expected to end on July 2.

Prince said that the dates are subject to change based on the situation at the time.

“We continue to live with COVID, Mr Speaker and therefore we have to be cognisant of what may happen in the future,” he said.

The education minister said hand hygiene is to be observed and handwashing stations and hand sanitisers are to be placed in appropriate areas.

He also noted that the hygiene and handwashing protocols instituted during the reopening of schools in May for the students who were doing external examinations and those in Grade 5, who returned in June, will be strictly adhered to.

He added that temperature checks are to be done at the start of each school day and the data recorded.

“The use of masks and face shields is strongly recommended for all persons on public transportation, strongly recommended, including students. Moreover, students will also be advised to wear appropriate face coverings while in public spaces during school hours,” Prince said.

He said also that the education ministry continues to be guided by experts within the Ministry of Health and has accepted the recommendations for the reopening of schools for all students for the new school year.