RC secondary schools prepare for return to in-person classes
The return of students of Forms 1–3 to in-person classes has been welcomed by principals of Catholic secondary schools under the Catholic Education Board of Management (CEBM). For many students, it will be their first time meeting their teachers and peers face to face.
On January 24, the Ministry of Education (MoE) announced students of Forms 1–3 or equivalent are required to return to the physical classroom on February 7 on a rotational basis.
Chief Executive Officer Sharon Mangroo said, “early priority will be to assess the status of students in order to plan work programmes. Our seven secondary schools vary in size and context, but preparations are being made to maximise in-school participation.”
Maintaining adherence to mask wearing, distancing and constant sanitising are now regarded as the “usual challenges”, but other concerns have arisen as more students return.
Small schools are constrained trying to implement rotations to allow each student to have two days in a ten-day cycle while simultaneously catering for the students preparing for exams to complete their school-based assessment requirements. Another concern is catering for the students whose parents choose to keep them at home.
The CEBM has shared guidelines for engaging parents on the vaccine issue. Schools have prepared for students according to what their physical space can allow. St Anthony’s College has expanded three areas so that three classes of one level can be accommodated at once. Form 6 will have classes daily while one lower form will be in school daily and Forms 4 and 5 will be rotated.
Presentation College, San Fernando will have classes twice weekly for the Forms 1–3, and 50 per cent of Forms 4 to 6 will attend daily.
The school population of the Matelot Community College is below capacity so 100 per cent can return.
St Benedict’s College, La Romaine will bring out the lower school five days in a ten-day timetable as recommended by the Ministry of Education (MoE). This is not expected to alter the current schedule. The school’s internet will allow for some classes to be livestreamed.
St Francis Boy’s College, Belmont is using a plan similar to St Benedict’s. Insufficient space prevents having the three forms present at a time. The physical return of the Forms 3s is seen as important because subject choices are to be made and guidance can be given by teachers.
Presentation College, Chaguanas will use a rotation system but prioritise the exam classes. Livestreaming will also be used.
The school stressed to the CEBM the necessity of students being back to school given the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on socialisation for the past two years.
Student’s spiritual and holistic development suffered, and their communication skills. Teachers have observed a general “silence” during virtual classes with a few students responding spontaneously. There’s also been a lack of mentorship by senior students who also have lost touch with the school culture and must be reminded.
The Central Trinidad school told of, “low participation in extra/co-curricular activities. In cases where the senior students have participated and are successful, their praises go unheard, and the younger students lose the opportunity to be motivated and to emulate such good accomplishments. This also goes for success at the CXC examinations.”
The health and wellness of students is of “great concern” as the sedentary lifestyle has caused a rise in obesity in the Forms 4–6. —LPG