Several factors to guide reopening of schools

Several factors to guide reopening of schools

Saturday, September 19, 2020

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MINISTER of Education, Youth and Information Fayval Williams yesterday met with the E-COVID Management Task Force where she outlined plans for a phased reopening of schools, starting on October 5, and based on a vulnerability index and risk ranking measure. The stakeholders embraced the path laid out and have committed to work with the ministry moving forward.

She also assured members of the task force that the ministry had already allocated funds to schools since June for their back-to-school reopening programme and stands ready to revisit additional requests related to COVID-19 protocols. To date, infant schools and early childhood institutions have been allocated $24.9 million; primary schools allocated just over $577 million and secondary schools $3.4 billion.

During the first meeting, Minister Williams said the ministry was assessing schools based on geoinformatics, demographic and health data. The plan is to develop a vulnerability index using a risk ranking approach that will inform the phased reopening of schools.

She said the ministry was being guided by a range of factors used to determine vulnerability profiles of the communities in which the schools are located. These include risk ranking of communities; COVID-19 protocol readiness; state of the physical infrastructure; adequacy of teaching and support staff; and quality of Internet connectivity for the blended approach.

This plan will include varied approaches to include full face-to-face class engagement; a hybrid (ie face-to-face and remote learning) and full remote learning.

“We are not in normal times and the ministry is being very deliberate in its approach to ensure that students, teachers, administrators and support staff are operating in safety,” the minister said.

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