By Lara Pickford-Gordon
The Catholic Education Board of Management (CEBM) is collaborating with a team of principals to develop a “ritual” for the first few days of full physical school April 19 to assist “in addressing mental health issues and re-integration into the routines of school”.
Sharon Mangroo, the Chief Executive Officer, CEBM said: “This will include creating the opportunity for deep listening and sharing experiences of the pandemic.” Schools of the Suburban Vicariate have engaged their students to express their pandemic experiences in poetry. Some of these were performed publicly on World Poetry Day, March 21.
“Many of our Principals have been engaging with their school stakeholders to build their confidence in the safety measures that are in place to protect students and staff,” Mangroo said in a statement to the Catholic News.
At a press briefing on Monday, March 28, Education Minister Dr Nyan Gadsby-Dolly announced the return of all students to physical school. The academic year started September 6, 2021 virtually. Physical classes were introduced in phases with Phase 1 October 4 for fully vaccinated Forms 4–6, Phase 2 October 25 for all Forms 4–6 secondary school students inclusive of the unvaccinated and special needs students.
Forms 1–3 students returned to in-person classes February 7 on a rotational basis. Standard Five students also were back in order to prepare for the Secondary Entrance Assessment exam March 31.
The children of the Infants to Standard Four classes in primary school and Early Childhood Care and Education will now be back in Term III 2021–2022.
Minister Gadsby-Dolly asked parents to guide and prepare their children for the full return to school and reminded students of their personal responsibility to adhere to health protocols in school and when travelling and using public transport.
“Provide your children with an extra face mask and sanitiser, equip them with the tools to learn and be safe. The Ministry is committed to safely returning all our nation’s children to physical school as this provides the best opportunity for learning for all,” a release from the Ministry stated.
Apart from the entry protocols, cleaning and sanitisation measures previously introduced, in Term III rotation of classes will cease and pre-Covid regular school hours and full school assemblies resume.
Staggering of school breaks will cease. Schools are to continuously remind students to observe sanitisation and handwashing protocols. Sports and extra-curricular activities resume.
Mandatory mask wearing for personnel and students in effect at primary and secondary schools is not required for ECCE students although ECCE providers must facilitate other safety protocols.
Mangroo said the CEBM welcomes the physical re-opening of schools for students from ECCE to Standard Five as “evidence suggests that physical schooling is the best option for meeting the learning needs of all students”.
She reported that all schools are physically ready, and health and safety measures are prepared. Sanitation supplies are adequate for the re-opening of schools however, Mangroo noted concern about sustaining this “since the grants that cater for consumable materials have not been received for this school year”.
She disclosed that schools will collect data to support “recovery of unfinished learning”.
Mangroo added, “With the support of the parishes in which schools are located we look forward to embarking on this new phase in our journey together to provide a quality education that allows each child to achieve their maximum potential with particular emphasis on those who are at risk”.