Covid-vaccine

Primary school principals will abide by whatever date is set by the Ministry of Education for the Secondary Entrance Assessment (SEA), says president of the National Primary School Principals Association (NAPSPA) Carlene Hayes.

However, Hayes is worried that teachers and principals supervising the exam may not get their Covid-19 vaccines ahead of the exam.

“In terms of the vaccine, some teachers and principals would have expressed that they tried to get appointments from call centres for the vaccines.

“They called and they were refused because they didn’t have an NCD (non-communicable disease), even though we are listed as essential workers,” she stated in a telephone interview with the Express yesterday.

The Ministry of Education has set June 10 as the official date of the SEA examination.

With the exam fast approaching, Hayes said principals are awaiting word from the Ministry of Education regarding how it will proceed regarding supervisors for the exam.

“Whether it be June 10 or not we will need personnel for it and we have to turn to our teachers. The principals are our centre managers,” she said.

Nonetheless, she noted principals are ensuring things are physically in place on the school compounds for the exams.

At the news conference on Monday at the Diplomatic Centre, Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh addressed the issue of vaccination of teachers but referred to forms four, five and six secondary school teachers who are currently conducting face-to-face teaching to prepare pupils for the Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) and Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examination (CAPE) exams.

“I reached out to the Minister of Education some time ago to get a list of her forms four, five and six teachers because those are the ones that are physically out and her principals and vice principals. She is working on that list and once I get that list then consideration will be given to that,” Deyalsingh stated.

Mixed views

The Express asked parents yesterday whether given the current rapid spread of the Covid-19 virus, they still felt comfortable with their children writing the exam on June 10.

They had mixed views.

Anita Persad said the tension association with the pandemic was enough for her 12-year-old daughter to bear and prolonging the exam further may not be good for her daughter’s mental health.

“She has been putting in the work online. It has not been easy.

“I know for sure her school will have all the protocols in place to ensure her safety and she will do her part. I’m scared to let her go out there but she has to do it at some point. She just wants it to be over.

“All this talk about postponing it is taking a toll on her because she’s more than ready,” she stated in a Facebook response.

Another parent, whose daughter attends Nelson Street Girls’ Roman Catholic School, responded:

“As much as I want the exam to come and be over with to just release the pressure and tension, I am looking at how Covid-19 cases are surging and I am really sceptical about that.

“When the kids go out for SEA we’re talking about hundreds of children. And it’s not just the kids going back out, there will be parents by the gateways waiting to pick them back up. That’s two separate crowds.

“I really think they should push back the exam a bit by maybe a month or month and a half until they can better prepare for the number of cases we currently have and would have, without exposing the kids and their parents to potential risk.

“It doesn’t make sense for the children to go out, write the exam and our Covid-19 cases surge again.”

Riad Harnarine told the Express that while he was worried and fearful about the possibility of his son contracting the virus on the day of the exam, he wanted the exam to be over with.

“This is nerve wracking. And what is making things worse is the uncertainty. One minute you’re hearing the exam will go on, the next minute you’re hearing they may reconsider the date.

“Then on top of that you have all these Covid cases. I just feel the sooner they do the exam the better it will be. Who knows what numbers will look like later down in the year. What if we have double the amount of cases than we do now?”

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This was Health Minister Terrence Deyal­singh’s response to Oro­­pouche East MP Dr Roodal Moonilal yester­day after Moonilal warned people to be cautious about being used as “guinea pigs” for the vaccine, which only has emergency-use approval.

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