FACE-TO-FACE classes for Secondary Entrance Assessment examination (SEA) pupils have been shut down as of today but unless further impacted by Covid-19, the exam will take place on August 20.
The adjustment was announced by Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley yesterday, as he led a televised news conference from the Diplomatic Centre in St Ann’s, to update on Government’s measures going forward to address the past fortnight’s spurt of the virus within communities.
“The decision I have taken is that we will discontinue at this stage from tomorrow (Thursday), those children will not go back out to have classes at school and we expect that they will do at home what they were doing before,” Rowley said.
He said the situation had been reviewed in detail alongside the Government’s medical team, leading to the decision to close the school doors.
“We met yesterday and went through the data step by step, line by line, and we came to the conclusion that we would not continue with that experience of bringing SEA children out,” the PM said.
School still reopening September 1
The prime minister said the reopening of schools remains scheduled for September 1 but may also be subject to change, depending on the behaviour of the virus in the coming weeks.
The Covid-19 situation locally will continue to be closely monitored, he said, noting that some 11 schools have been closed in relation to Covid-19 contact and scares.
The PM also said nine children, including four SEA pupils, have tested positive so far.
Unless an “explosion” of Covid-19 cases takes place, however, the reopening date of September 1 will be kept.
“We are not going to make a change of that date today, but we will tell you that we will monitor it for another week or so. Based on what comes up during that period, we will confirm that date or review for a change,” Rowley said, adding that “the decision to reopen schools is a month away”.
“But as of now, we leave it the way it is and we look at what’s going to happen between now and the next ten days or thereabouts,” he said. Rowley went on to call on parents and guardians to support and tutor children over the next few weeks.
Disappointment with TTUTA
The Prime Minister has expressed disappointment with a call to teachers to stay home, made by the Trinidad and Tobago Unified Teachers’ Association (TTUTA).
The union had also since last week urged Government to shut down primary schools that were partially operational to facilitate SEA pupils.
“I was disappointed when I heard, yesterday, TTUTA calling on teachers not to report for work as a decision of TTUTA in advance of any national decision. When we say we are all in this together, we mean everybody,” Rowley said, adding:
“Any decision made is made for everybody. It is not helpful if persons in leadership positions believe they are not going to accept what the country is doing, because they are prepared to protect themselves better than everybody else, especially when we are not seeing that commitment by some people where it is required as the protocol to deal with the virus.”
The PM questioned what would happen, “if one group takes that position to protect their segment”.
“What will happen if other leaders do that?,” he asked.