All schools are still set to reopen on September 1 and there is no change to the August 20 date for the Secondary Entrance Assessment (SEA) examination.
This was confirmed by Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh and chief medical officer Dr Roshan Parasram at yesterday’s Covid-19 virtual news conference.
The updated Public Health Ordinance, which took effect from Sunday, suggested a later reopening of the new school term, leaving parents and members of the public bewildered yesterday.
The regulations noted that primary, secondary and tertiary institutions are to remain closed, except for those providing educational facilities to “persons for the purpose of examination for SEA, CSEC, CAPE and at tertiary institutions” and “persons who are preparing to take any exam”.
“These regulations shall have effect from 2 August, 2020 to 30 September, 2020,” the updated public health ordinance stated.
However, during yesterday’s news conference, Deyalsingh indicated that the date stated on the regulations was an error.
“I just got a message from Minister (Stuart) Young. Apparently there was an error made as far as when schools are to be reopened. It was an oversight and we will be fixing that. So rest assured that we will be working with the Ministry of Education to correct this oversight and we do apologise for it,” he said.
SEA date remains
According to the CMO, “close to nine” primary schools had to be closed in the past few days because of pupils’ exposure to the Covid-19 virus.
The Standard Five pupils have been attending SEA preparation classes since July 20.
Since the spike in Covid-19 cases, some parents have been clamouring for classes to be stopped and the exam moved to an earlier date to avoid further transmissions and exposure.
At the weekend, the Trinidad and Tobago Unified Teachers Association also called for all schools to be closed and for SEA preparation classes be done online.
“No child’s life, no educator’s life is worth the risk of being in public places for the sake of an examination,” TTUTA stated in a media release.
Asked yesterday whether given the spike in cases the Ministry of Health had given any advice to the Ministry of Education regarding SEA and SEA preparation classes, Parasram maintained that any decision regarding the exam is up to the Ministry of Education.
“The Ministry of Health continuously makes recommendations to multiple stakeholders including the Ministry of Health.
“We have education reps on our multi-sectoral committee and we will continue to do so, but matters related to schools and examinations lie with the Ministry of Education.
“I cannot go into further detail until they have had that info and made a decision. So the Ministry of Health would continue to make its recommendations going forward,” he said.
So far 11 schools have been closed because of exposure to Covid-19.
The county medical officer in each district of the impacted schools has advised principals, teachers, pupils as well and their household members to quarantine at home for the next 14 days.
1. Maraval RC Primary School
2. St Jude’s School for Girls
3. ASJA Primary School (Charlieville)
4. Montrose Government Primary School
5. Iere Village Government Primary School
6. St Mary’s Government Primary School (Moruga)
7. Fifth Company Baptist Primary School (Moruga)
8. St Michael’s Anglican Primary School (Princes Town)
9. St Augustine Government Primary School
10. Tacarigua Presbyterian Primary School
11. Arima West Government Primary School