Dr Keith Rowley---use

Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley

The Trinidad and Tobago Unified Teachers’ Association (TTUTA) is hoping “good sense prevails” today and Government announces the closure of all primary schools to prevent further Covid-19 transmission.

Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley plans to host a news conference at noon today at the Diplomatic Centre in St Ann’s. The Express understands the Secondary Entrance Assessment (SEA) will be addressed.

So far, 11 primary schools have been closed and pupils and teaching staff placed under home quarantine because of exposure to the virus.

On Monday, TTUTA advised all Standard Five teachers and princi­pals to immediately discontinue face-to-face SEA preparation classes with their pupils, given the closure of additional schools.

SEA preparation classes began on July 20 and are scheduled to continue until the SEA exam on August 20.

TTUTA president Antonia De Freitas told the Express during a telephone interview yesterday that a few teachers and pupils stayed away from school yesterday, but there was “no significant change” in attendance.

“We may have had one or two more teachers staying away and more students staying away, but the average attendance was still between 40 to 75 per cent for students and about 60 per cent for teachers,” she said.

“What we have to look at and what we are looking at is not necessarily the fact that it is just a few schools out of the hundreds of primary schools that were closed. The spread is more or less in different geographic points in Trinidad,” De Freitas said.

She added: “And that speaks to the way people have been moving about without masks and proper precautions. If we consider that, then the risk that is possible to any child and any adult coming into the school environment is greater than it was previously. And it is in this regard, we are calling for the schools to be closed at this point in time.

“At this time, they are just doing revision, reinforcement, motivation and so on. So we are hopeful that to ease the mental trauma that these children are going through, and the stress the parents are going through in terms of their child’s safety, that good sense prevails and we would do that from tomorrow.”

Charlieville concern

Several parents told the Express yesterday they planned to keep their children home from today as they completed mock exams yesterday.

Others said since the third school closure, their children have been at home.

So far, one school, Charlieville Presbyterian Primary, has announced the discontinuation of all SEA classes given that another school in the area—Charlieville ASJA Primary School—was shut down because a parent of a pupil tested positive for the virus.

“This was not a decision made easily, however, safety must come first. The Standard Five students are a mere two weeks away from their exam (pending any changes) and therefore seeing that the Charlieville area has been affected re Covid, it is too much of a risk that can potentially expose them, as well as yourself, to continue with these meetings,” the school announced in a Facebook post on Sunday.

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