Vice-Recteur Michel Sanz (left), President Daniel Gibbs (centre) and Lycée Principal Marlene Borel (right, back to camera) welcomed students at Lycée Robert Weinum in La Savane on Tuesday for the first day of school. (Robert Luckock photo)
MARIGOT–President of the Collectivité Daniel Gibbs and Vice-Recteur Michel Sanz visited Lycée Robert Weinum and Collège Soualiga at 8:00am Tuesday to observe the first day of school before going on to visit Hervé Williams School in Concordia which has a new principal, Yannick Delannay, and the kindergarten Evelyna Halley School.
With hundreds of students congregating outside the Lycée Robert Weinum school gates waiting to enter, distancing was not practical, nor was it for the gathering to hear the welcome speeches inside the forecourt, but all students were wearing masks as required. However, distancing markings were seen on the ground everywhere.
There were words of welcome from Gibbs, Sanz and Lycée Principal Marlene Borel for students, administrative staff and teachers. Needless to say, there was considerable emphasis on students’ adhering to the hygiene and distancing protocols. As mentioned in the earlier press conference, protocols are in place should a student or teacher be suspected of having COVID-19, or in the worst-case scenario if there is a cluster. Parents are required to take their child’s temperature before he or she goes to school each morning.
Borel said she was happy that school has returned as normal and was confident the maximum has been done to protect students and teachers from COVID-19.
Close to 900 students were starting school at the Lycée on Tuesday; 248 in “Terminales” (the last class before going to university), 257 in “Premiers” (the year before), and 306 in “Secondes” (those students coming from the Colleges). The latter will be starting today, Wednesday.
Assistant Vice-Principal in charge of vocational training Marthe Ogoundélé-Tessi said this school year has the added complication of having to social distance, to study in smaller classrooms reduced to 25 students with spacing of desks, and to respect the barrier hygiene measures at all times, adding to the normal studies. A PowerPoint presentation about COVID-19 and how dangerous it is was due to be shown to all students.
“We have 81 teachers, so we have a large and very good team,” added Ogoundélé-Tessi. “And there are sone teachers still to arrive from France and Guadeloupe. This high school has had very good results, but what we have to be aware of is that if coronavirus cases keep on rising the schools may close and we will have to revert back to virtual learning again.”
She acknowledged that returning to school in this context is a calculated “risk” contrary to the decision on the Dutch side of the island to continue distance learning for the majority of its establishments.
“We are following the decision made by our Minister of Education that all schools will return as normal and that is how it is in the whole of France and we have to follow that here,” she explained. “It’s also a social issue because parents need to go to work, which they cannot do if they have to home-school all the time.”
School transportation is the responsibility of the Collectivité which assures that mask wearing and hygiene protocols are in place on buses.
Source: The Daily Herald https://www.thedailyherald.sx/islands/return-to-school-begins-tuesday