Schools were closed in an effort to curb the Covid -19 pandemic. The government took bold decisions when it announced a total lockdown. We are still uncertain about the exact date when confinement will be totally waved. We will have to wait for an official communiqué from the government.
We are in uncharted waters. We can only anticipate and rely on information from government authorities. In the mean time we may hope for the better and reflect on the way to help our children get back to learning.
Our pupils have not been attending school from10 March 2020 to 19 March 2020 due to bad weather. After these few days there was total confinement and eventually a lockdown was announced so as to stop the spread of the Coronavirus.
In all pupils would have missed classes during some 29 days.( From: 10 March 2020 to 03 April 2020 and from 20 April to 08 May 2020. ( 1st Term ends on 03 April : School holidays - From 06 April to 18 April . Public holidays- 12 March, 25 March, and 01 May.)
The government has announced that this lockdown will continue until 04 May 2020. In the event this lockdown is lifted on 04 May, we cannot say for sure whether classes will resume immediately. Schools will have to be completely sanitized before resumption of classes. This might take some time.
The government has the intention to come up with a staggered lifting of confinement for all activities except schools.
May we expect that classes could be run on a shift system?
Any way schools should reopen to help our children catch up with curriculum and to ease parents' burden who need to get back to work. Children will not only catch up with their learning but will also socialise and prepare for their future assessments.
We have an amazing team of teachers who work their socks off and form a real bond in their class. Even during this period of complete lock down they are in constant communication with their pupils, forwarding classwork through different technological modes. However these online lessons cannot replace classwork.
We strongly believe that our teachers will meet the challenge to complete the curriculum (provided some topics are removed taking into consideration the present situation). To make this happen we have to review the school calendar, curtail July/August holidays ( allowing only 1 week of holidays instead of 4 weeks ), and extend the school year so that it ends around 04 December 2020 instead of 06 November 2020.
The government should reassure parents of our commitment towards the safety and wellbeing of our children as this is our number one priority. Schools should reopen only when there are no more cases of Covid- 19 disease and no quarantined patients.
We should also look into the following issues:
Pupils travel to school by van or school bus.
No social distancing is observed during these trips.
Access to school premises for parents/grandparents in the morning and at dismissal time.
Head ache for school staff to ensure that pupils are never in groups of more than five while outside.
Monitoring easy access to school during the day from the part of the public eg baker, parents, officials from the MOE, parents who are frontline workers.
A High level Committee could be set up, comprising of representatives from:
Ministry of Education, Tertiary Education, Science & Technology
Ministry of Health and Wellness
The Police Department,
to look into Conditions prior to Resumption of classes.
Medical advice sought from the Ministry of Health and Wellness.
Our country has no more cases of patients suffering from Covid- 19 disease.
Whether the population will have to respect social distancing.
If yes, come up with a protocol for schools
The Ministry of Education to come with a new protocol.
Dealing with suspected case of Covid -19 disease.
Provision of Non touch Forehead Thermometers in all schools.
Sanitization of all schools before resumption
A sensitization campaign about hygiene rules targeting parents and other stakeholders at least one week prior to resumption. .
Provision of hygienic/protective, cleaning and sanitizing/sterilizing materials.
Suggestions for an amended school calendar:
Irrespective of date of resumption limit school holidays to one week only in August 2020.
Change in dates of PSAC Grade 5 and 6 Modular and End of Year Assessments.
Cancellation of all other assessments form Grade 1 to 4.
Cancellation of all extra and co- curricular activities and other competitions.
Removal of certain topics from the curriculum.
School year may be stretched up to 04 Dec 2020.
Resit Exam for PSAC Grade 6 postponed to be held in end Jan 2021 (Pupils may follow remedial classes in secondary schools where they have obtained a seat for extended stream. Upon being successful they may be redirected towards main stream in another secondary school.
Only one week of school holidays in April 2021 and only two weeks in July /August 2021.( This will cater to replace teaching/learning periods that couldn't be held in 2020 )
Remedial classes after school hours
Staggered resumption of classes ( Grades 4,5 & 6 followed by Grades 1,2& 3 after 2 weeks .)