Tobago ready for return of forms 1-3, standard 5 students

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Krystal Roget, right, buys a uniform for her 12-year-old daughter, Derenice, a form two student at Scarborough Secondary School, at Nelson’s Book Store, Scarborough. She was attended to by Sherice Antoine, centre, and Vanna Johnson, left, last Wednesday.
– David Reid

Tobago education stakeholders have agreed that students in forms one-three as well as standard five pupils should return to the physical classroom on Monday along with the counterparts in Trinidad.

At the primary school level, they also agreed that all of the remaining students from infants to standard four along with ECCE students will return to school in term three.

They believe that a “flexible but well-managed blend of face to face and virtual modalities is vital for success in the upcoming months at the ECCE, primary and secondary levels.”

These were among the decisions taken at the end of a three-day consultation among stakeholders on the island to discuss the reopening of school for students in those levels.

THA Secretary of Education, Research and Technology Zorisha Hackett hosted the consultation, which was held on January 24, 26 and 28. It included assistant secretary Orlando Kerr, technical staff, principals of primary, secondary and ECCE schools as well as TTUTA and PTA representatives.

The consultations began on the same day the Ministry of Education announced that students in forms one-three and standard five, who are preparing to write the Secondary Entrance Assessment examination on March 31, will return to the physical classroom on February 7 (Monday). But students in forms one-three are to resume classes on a rotational basis.

“The details of this arrangement for each school will be communicated to parents and students by principals, but all students should be required to attend school physically at minimum two days per week, and five days in a ten-day cycle,” the ministry had said in its statement.

It added students who are not rostered for physical classes are to be assigned asynchronous assignments.

“It is recognised that since February 2021, many teachers have been assigning asynchronous work for forms 1-3 as they straddle both online and physical classes.

“Teachers have and will continue to receive guidance and training in methods for maximising hybrid teaching approached such as the flipped classroom, so that the effectiveness of asynchronous classes will be maximised.”

In a statement on Saturday, the division said the vast majority of the nine secondary schools in Tobago – 77.8 per cent – agreed that students in forms one-three should return to school from Monday.

It added the majority of primary school principals agreed to the reopening of schools to standard five students in the first instance and the remaining students from term three.

The division said ECCE principals agreed to students returning to school in term three with 80 per cent indicating a preference to delay until September 2022.

“This will allow for appropriate staffing and infrastructural repairs.”

The division said primary school principals agreed to bi-weekly sanitisation of their respective premises.

It said consideration is to be given to special needs children who require assistance to remain clean and experience an adverse reaction to mask-wearing or lack the cognitive abilities to adhere to such protocols.

“The division will conduct a further assessment to provide the appropriate support to students with special needs.”

The division said the design and management of the models that schools utilise will be determined by the principals and their management teams in keeping with the principles of school-based management, the schools supervision unit, the technical advisor and the ECCE managers will monitor the schools’ performances “as we embrace this new phase of reopening of our schools.”

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