Secondary school students from forms four to six will return to physical classrooms on 8 February, in a new ‘hybrid system’ that will involve a combination of online and in-person learning.
Minister of Education Dr Nyan Gadsby-Dolly provided details on the re-opening of schools at a press conference today, as the government continues to adjust to life during the Covid-19 pandemic. The proposedd changes will happen once the national rate of infection remains low.
Students in forms four to six are expected to report to school to complete SBAs, practicals and internal assessments. Otherwise, they are expected to continue online—although the minister did offer a caveat that physical classes are permitted ‘where absolutely necessary’.
At primary school level, standard five students only will be allowed on to the compound from 12 April.
For both secondary and primary schools, students are mandated to wear school uniforms and masks as well as to have temperature checks and sanitise regularly. Schools are ordered not to operate outside of normal working hours.
Visitors must give relevant information before entering the school, so as to facilitate contact tracing.
An Education District Health Unit has been established, which will comprise one doctor and 14 nurses. The Unit will ‘have responsibility, in collaboration with the Health and Safety Unit of the MoE, for ensuring that arrangements are in place at schools for Covid-19 protocols to be enforced’.
Two nurses will be assigned to each school district while the Ministry of Education will utilise substitute teachers to ensure that Covid-19 protocols are followed at schools. Substitute teachers will also be assigned to schools to oversee such protocols.
Among the new guidelines for schools are:
- A six foot distance between all persons in teaching spaces;
- No assemblies or congregations;
- Staggered breaks, with students allowed to eat and drink at their desks;
- No sharing of material, such as books, stationery, snacks, or sanitisers;
- Safety guidelines for Covid-19 must be repeated multiple times during the school day as reminders to staff and students, with breaks for sanitisation.
Each school must calculate the ‘amount (sic) of students that can be accommodated in [its] existing teaching-learning space’.
The Ministry of Education urges parents to inform teachers or the relevant principals if their child displays flu-like symptoms, or has been identified as the primary contact of a Covid-19 patient.
Each school must have a designated quarantine area for students exhibiting flu-like symptoms, who will be picked up by their guardians. Medical clearance is required for students or staff suspected of or confirmed of having the novel coronavirus to return to school.
The Ministry of Education will also engage the MTS on a new, appropriate cleaning regime for schools.