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Issues unresolved for primary schools, says principals’ association president

Despite mixed reviews about the start of in-person classes for Standard Five students in the primary school sector, the National Primary Schools Principals’ Association (NAPSPA) has revealed that there are still a number of issues to be resolved.

NAPSPA President and Principal of Caratal Sacred Heart RC Primary in Gasparillo, Carlene Hayes said that after consultation with principals and other stakeholders, the safety and well-being of the students are of paramount importance.

She said there is great anxiety among stakeholders, especially among principals and teachers, given the high numbers of Covid-19 cases, where the Omicron variant is at the level of community spread.

The anxiety, Hayes added, is exacerbated by the fact that the majority of the Standard Five students are unvaccinated.

She also pointed out that: “Resources such as face masks, gloves, cleaning supplies, resources for a designated quarantine area such as cots and PPE must be provided and replenished in adequate quantity to meet the needs of all of our primary school.” She added, “Funding must be given to our schools to purchase school supplies and other resources needed.”

According to Hayes, there are still several schools in which repairs have also not been initiated or completed, which would put the occupiers and users at risk.

She said, “Our survey has also revealed that several schools need furniture because of termite destruction.”

On top of this, she also revealed that at least 50  principals have not been assigned laptops by the Ministry of Education, to perform their administrative duties online.

“Principals now must monitor both the physical and virtual environments of their schools. The need for additional supervision of the students in the physical environment is also our major concern,” Hayes said.

In terms of charting the way forward, Hayes reiterates that there is a need for proper consultation and engagement with the union (Trinidad & Tobago Unified Teachers’ Association) and other education stakeholders. “It is NAPSPA’s hope that the safety of our Standard Five students is not compromised at this time because of SEA 2022.” — Klysha Best