Classes will resume on October 5 with the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information employing a combination of approaches in order to ensure that all students are reached.
Portfolio Minister, Hon. Fayval Williams, in making the disclosure at a virtual press conference on September 22, said that a decision was made to delay face-to-face lessons as the country experiences community spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19), which has seen a spike in positive cases.
As such, students will remain at home, where they will be able to access lessons virtually; via television, radio and cable; and through the delivery of printed materials.
In explaining the approaches, Minister Williams said that for the virtual classes, students will be engaged through the Ministry’s online learning management system.
She noted that approximately 20,000 teachers have been trained in the use of the system.
“Teachers and students will be in a virtual environment and the teachers will be able to teach online. The lessons will be recorded and the students will be able to access them at their convenience as many times as they would like, and this, we believe, will help to improve the mastery of the subject matter,” she said.
Lessons will also be provided via television, cable and radio channels.
“TVJ will be providing a dedicated channel for 24 hours and CVM, in collaboration with READY TV, will be providing a 24-hour dedicated station starting on October 5,” she said, noting that the schedule will be provided by the Ministry.
Mrs. Williams said that the Ministry will also be providing printed material for students to utilise along with their textbooks and worksheets at home. “These will be delivered to agreed drop-off points, and this approach is particularly applicable (for) students without Internet access,” she said.
She said that requests for face-to-face interaction by some principals will be guided by the health-related information and the completion of the health inspections in schools.
“Over time, depending on how we move through this pandemic, we will know better how to bring students back into the physical environment in a safe way. Face-to-face is not one of the approaches we are advocating right now,” she pointed out.
Mrs. Williams said that there is an urgency to get all students back to school, as many need support, particularly with mathematics and English, “but we recognise that we are in a pandemic like no other, where fears and anxieties are high”.
The Ministry has established an Education COVID-19 Management Task Force, chaired by Minister Williams, to guide the safe reopening of schools.
School plants were ordered closed in March as part of measures to contain the spread of COVID-19.