Unvaccinated students won’t be left behind


Education Secretary Marslyn Melville-Jack

Secretary of Education Marslyn Melville-Jack has told parents and guardians that no child will be left behind when physical classes resume on Monday for vaccinated students in forms four, five and six.

At Wednesday’s post-Executive Council media briefing, Melville-Jack said principals have been working assiduously to ensure online teaching for unvaccinated students is unaffected.

Asked by the media how teachers will balance the workload, Melville-Jack said, “Different options are available to principals and teachers based upon their school…

“Let’s say mathematics is to be taught to fourth formers; you may have three or four mathematics teachers – two may be assigned to teach online and other two may teach face to face. It depends on what is available to you. I can tell you, principals have been very creative in their timetabling.

“And I can assure you, the unvaccinated as well as the vaccinated have nothing to worry about. They all will be given the same kind of quality education.”

Vaccinations for students 12-18 began in Tobago on August 18 after TT received a donation of Pfizer covid19 vaccines from the US. The Pfizer vaccine is the only World Health Organization-approved covid19 vaccine for that age group.

Melville-Jack said she was not pleased with the number of students vaccinated so far.

She said the division had targeted 6,000 students but just 1,917 have received a first dose and 1,149 have received a second dose.

“This uptake is way below our desired requirement if we are to approach herd immunity.”

She urged parents to get their children vaccinated. The vaccine drive continues daily at health centres.

“There is nothing to be afraid of when taking the vaccine.

“I am fully vaccinated and feeling fine. Most of the students that have been vaccinated are feeling fine.

” We care enough for our students that we do not want them coming out unless they have that added layer of protection. They will be dealing not only with the teacher: when you leave home you will be in a maxi taxi, go in a store, interact with people who are unvaccinated.”

She said the majority of students want to return to physical classes.

“I can only appeal to the parents: please, ensure you do this as quickly as possible, because I know that your children are longing to be in a classroom once again with their friends.”

She said online learning will affect the students’ social development.

“Many students have not had the opportunity to visit their schools or wear their school uniforms in public. Operating in a fully online environment means camaraderie among students and the ability to build collaborative networks is lost.”

Melville-Jack also addressed complaints over the condition of labs at various schools.

“Those issues are minor. I am saying that because I’m advised that three schools are awaiting eye wash and enclosures for these eye wash. These are already here and will be installed in time for the reopening on Monday. The labs at Signal Hill – work has resumed. By the time they are ready for the practicals, those labs will be completed.”

She said $13 million has been approved by the Executive Council for minor repairs.

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