Although no definitive word has been pronounced regarding the potential dates for the reopening of school operations here, Education Minister Jimmy Prince is certain that the process – when it begins – would be rolled out in phases.
“We have no confirmation yet from the Ministry of Health and we still have to meet with them. If we open it won’t be the whole school, it would be phased. If we open it would be just the [external] exams classes, Forms 5 and Grades 6; just to do their exams. So to observe social distancing, we’ll take a whole school to put in a Form 5 alone.
“I can tell you we won’t be sending back all those children to school. Anytime we back school it would be with Forms 5 and Grades 6 alone and just because they are doing exams.”
But Health Ministry officials must first give the all-clear. In the meantime, Minister Prince said, “right now we’re doing some work to make sure we have enough stations to wash hands and so on.”
He also explained a recent dispatch to “Heads of all education institutions” here from the Education Ministry’s Permanent Secretary captioned “cleaning school environment.” MP Prince noted, “we don’t want to wait and say school is going to open next week and then we have to rush and do things.”
The communique exhorted principals to, “ensure that school facilities are properly cleaned” in anticipation of “the eventual reopening” of in class instructions.
P.S. Myceel Burke succinctly called to the Head teachers’ attention the fact that, “this cleaning need to commence on Thursday May 7, 2020.” He also advised that the necessary “cleaning supplies and other resources” would be made available through his office, “for the completion of this critical exercise.”
Minister Prince again reiterated his ministry’s policy on the required transportation to get these children to and from their respective schools. He agreed that it would counter-productive to “have them jammed up on in vans on other people” on their way to what is supposed to be sterile environments.
“We’re looking to see how many school buses we have and where they [students] are coming from. Another thing too we would have to stagger it. We wouldn’t bring them in at 8 o’clock with everybody else. Rather than starting school 9 o’clock we’d start school at 10 so that the vans that would normally come back up empty could carry only school children – we’re trying to do it in the best way possible.
“But we have to make sure that the environment is safe first for both the children and the teachers. We won’t just open school like we crazy,” Prince – who is also the incumbent Unity Labour Party MP for the Marriaqua constituency – told Asbert News Network exclusively.