THERE has been a change in plan by the Education Ministry as primary school classes will remain virtual when the new term reopens on April 12.
Initially, Government had announced that Standard Five pupils would return to physical classes for the third academic term of the school year.
However, in a statement yesterday, the ministry said this was no longer so.
No reasons for the decision were given, but the statement came on the heels of a sudden surge in Covid-19 cases across the country over the past few days.
Now only Forms Four and Five pupils will be able to attend physical classes and not on a daily basis.
The statement explained that schools will continue operating on a hybrid system as was done during the last term.
“Students of Forms Four-Six will access physical classes for practical subject components ONLY and all other secondary, primary and ECCE students will continue with the online or package systems,” the statement said. “All educational material provided by the Ministry of Education via television, radio, print media and online will continue to be available for student and parent access.”
The hybrid system caters for online classes and packages for teaching to continue as far as possible and for secondary levels pupils to report to school for the completion of practicals, SBAs and internal assessments only.
Face-to-face classes will be held only where absolutely necessary, the ministry stated.
All other secondary school pupils are not to report to class.
At the primary and ECCE levels, pupils will not return to their physical classrooms at the start of Term III on April 12.
All classes should be held virtually and pupils who require packages shall utilise their usual method of collection with all safety protocols observed, the ministry said.
The ministry also provided guidelines as to protocols that must be followed for both pupils and teachers.
These guidelines are as follows for general operations for all schools:
-The wearing of school uniform
-Masks must be worn at all times except for the purpose of eating and drinking
-Collection of contact tracing data in the case of visitors to the compound (Visitors to the school compound must be kept to a minimum)
Schools must have a designated quarantine area
Students who display flu-like symptoms should be assigned to the quarantine area to await pick-up. Teachers, health and safety officers, security officers or staff may identify these pupils to the principal.
Schools must follow specific safety protocols in the following circumstances:
-Staff or student displays flu-like symptoms
-Staff or student tests positive for Covid-19
-Staff or student is identified as a primary contact of a person who has tested positive for Covid-19
-Medical clearance is required for staff or student to re-enter the school population after being suspected/confirmed to have contracted Covid-19.
-Medical clearance is required for staff or students to enter the school population if another medical condition (eg, allergies) is causing the display of flu-like symptoms (which would result in being barred from entry to the school compound).
The Ministry said six feet distancing must be enforced in teaching spaces, no whole-school assemblies to be held, breaks, including lunch times, should be staggered, pupils should be allowed to eat at their desks in classrooms to avoid congregation where necessary and sharing of materials such as books, stationery, snacks or sanitisers among or between pupils should not be permitted.
Schools are authorised to operate during normal school hours and parents are obligated to inform the school if students begin displaying flu-like symptoms at home or if students have been identified as primary contacts.
The Ministry said schools should make a practice of repeating safety guidelines multiple times during the school day as a reminder to staff and pupils of the protocols to be kept.
These can also be used as sanitisation breaks for the pupils to use their personal hand sanitisers, it added.
The complete Guidelines for Physical Reopening of Schools are available at www.moe.gov.tt.