NEW questions are being raised as to if the Secondary Entrance Assessment (SEA) exam will go on as planned, given the closure of two primary schools in the last few days due to possible Covid-19 exposure.

A total of 19,344 pupils are scheduled to sit the exam on August 20.

A decision on the way forward for the exam is expected to be made today, during the Ministry of Education’s meeting with education stakeholders, including the Trinidad and Tobago Unified Teachers Association (TTUTA) and the National Primary Schools Principals’ Association (NAPSPA).

Presidents of both Associations confirmed to the Express yesterday that they were asked to attend the meeting today.

“At that meeting we will have further discussions on the hosting of the SEA. But what we would want to do is give the reassurance to members who have gone out to school that we are looking at the situation and we would want to encourage them to continue to adhere to all safety and sanitation protocols and we would continue to engage the Ministry of Education and stakeholders on the matter,” TTUTA president Antonia De Freitas told the Express during a phone interview.

NAPSPA president Lance Mottley said he suspected today’s meeting may have something to do with the upcoming SEA exam.

“The issue is troubling for us and we do believe that we need to have some discussions as it relates to that. These (Covid-19) cases would have shown up notwithstanding the fact that schools would have implemented, very strictly and stringently, the protocols as established by the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Health. This tells a very different story that despite your best efforts that you may miss one or two cases,” he said.

Classes for SEA pupils resumed on July 20 in preparation for August 20.

Last week, an 11-year-old pupil of the Maraval Roman Catholic School tested positive for Covid-19, possibly exposing 300 people to the virus, chief medical officer Dr Roshan Parasram reported on Saturday.

Ninety pupils and teachers at the school are being considered primary contacts and have been ordered to quarantine at their homes.

And at yesterday’s Covid-19 virtual media conference, principal medical officer, epidemiology, Dr Naresh Nandram confirmed that a family member of an 11-year-old SEA pupil at the Tacarigua Presbyterian School tested positive for Covid-19.

The school was ordered closed and the process of contact tracing of pupils and their families was started, he noted.

Change in SEA date up to Ministry

Responding to questions from reporters yesterday, Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh said any change in the date for the SEA exam was up to the Ministry of Education.

“The date was set via Cabinet note so the alteration of that date will not be the remit of the Ministry of Health. If we are asked by the Ministry of Education to provide any technical or medical advice, we stand ready to do so,” he said.

The Express sought answers from Education Minister Anthony Garcia on the issue but he did not respond to phone calls.