PHILIPSBURG–Minister of Education, Culture, Youth and Sport (ECYS) Rodolphe Samuel provided clarity on the status of the reopening of schools for May 18.
“What we (ECYS) are doing at this moment, at the final part of the school year is making it possible for those students who are finalising their exams to do so. Yes, you would read in the phase opening of the country that schools will be opened, but when you look closely you will see the remark “depending if they are ready.”
Samuel said it is not the intention to have all students return to school during the final months of the school year. He said the recent announcement by government was for those schools and institutions that have students in the exam classes to consider. “These students will be accommodated in order to get the final exams finished,” he added.
The Ministry of ECYS is working with schools that will be reopening for these students.
The minister said before schools can be allowed to open, safety protocols have to be taken into consideration. This would also include the school buses that will be transporting students to and from school.
Prime Minister and Minister of General Affairs Silveria Jacobs added that schools are allowed to reopen, but this is based on the school’s ability to carry out the necessary guidelines. “Schools can decide not to open and if [the school – Ed.] together with the Ministry of Education can ascertain that the students are all able to follow education and are not hampered by such, this is not problem,” she added.
“As we are in the later part of the school year, May to June, there is no need to open the regular classes, even though they are allowed,” she said.
Jacobs said if a school is able to prove that they can use proper social distancing with a few children or the most vulnerable children, then they would be allowed to do so. “That is what the regulation allows for. Schools can decide whether or not they will open,” she added.
Samuel said the ministry has already begun to look at the opening of the 2020/2021 school year in August. “The reopening of schools in August is another process being discussed with the various school boards in order to make sure that all the safety protocols are in place,” he added.
He noted one of the issues that may arise with the upcoming school year is teachers who may have underlying health issues or when you consider their age, puts them at a risk. “When school reopens, it might be possible that some of these teachers would not return to school,” he said.
The ministry is conducting an assessment to understand – when schools reopen in August – where the ministry will stand with such teachers.
Source: The Daily Herald https://www.thedailyherald.sx/islands/samuel-clarifies-status-on-reopening-of-schools