Director of Education Clare Browne says that most schools across the country were already engaged in face-to-face learning well before the Cabinet made its decision.
Therefore, Browne says that Monday’s return to the classroom full-time is more symbolism than substance.
He says the principals and faculty at most schools had taken the initiative based on the rate of infection in the country and the learning loss many students had already suffered.
Browne notes that the majority of private institutions, except for “literally one or two,” would have been in full face-to-face operation prior to the Cabinet decision.
Of the 30 public primary schools, 26 were in full face-to-face mode, as were four public secondaries, while nine remained on a shift system.
Several secondary schools are still undergoing the challenges of overcrowding. Hence, the physical-distance requirement would have been a barrier to accommodating all the students on the plant at once, the Director explains.
Meanwhile, Browne is reminding parents, students, teachers and staff on the school plant that the country and the world are still facing a pandemic.
Therefore, contrary to the Cabinet’s directive, last week, excluding students from wearing face masks, Browne is recommending that they be worn by everyone on the school compound.
As a further precaution, Browne is advising parents to keep sick children at home. If students are displaying flu-like symptoms, he warns, parents will be called by the school’s principal to collect them.
He says the Ministry of Education cannot afford to have all the gains it made through stringent COVID-19 management to be eroded by irresponsible behaviour.