Following the success of the pilot face-to-face programme, Minister of Education, Youth and Information, Fayval Williams, says the Government will continue to reopen more schools on a phased basis.
A total of 39 schools are now participating in face-to-face classes, comprising the 17 that were a part of the two-week pilot programme in November, as well as an additional 22 institutions that reopened on December 7.
Mrs Williams, who was addressing a virtual town hall on Wednesday said that the process for reopening is being guided by the assessment of the face-to-face pilot, including evaluation of the institutions by the Ministry of Health and Wellness.
“We would have used the pilot programme to help us to understand everything about the schools to give us the confidence to reopen. We would have used a risk-based approach to look at a number of different factors. On top of that, we would have had consultations with the principals, the teachers on the ground to help to guide us”
she pointed out.
She said the physical inspection of school plants carried out by the Ministry of Health and Wellness, is a critical factor in determining whether they can resume in-person classes. This includes ensuring that they have adequate handwash stations, social distance markers in the corridors and isolation rooms to manage cases of a child coming to school with respiratory symptoms.
A total of 87 of the 171 high schools across the Ministry’s seven education regions are classified as low risk, with 66 approved as coronavirus (COVID)-compliant by the Ministry of Health and Wellness and deemed satisfactory for reopening.
As it relates to the 760 primary schools, there are 211 that are classified as low risk, and 59 have been approved as COVID-compliant and, therefore, ready for phased face-to-face reopening.
Some 86 schools have indicated their preference to begin face-to-face classes at the start of the new school term on January 4, 2021.