TOBAGO House of Assembly (THA) Secretary of Education, Research and Technology Zorisha Hackett says the assembly has decided to relax the school uniform requirment for students returning to classes in Tobago in term three of the current academic year.
She made the announcement at the THA’s weekly virtual post Executive Council news conference last Thursday.
After two years of online learning owing to covid19 restrictions, students at every level will return to physical classrooms in the third term of the school year, beginning on Wednesday for Tobago students and on Tuesday for students in Trinidad.
With that in mind, Hackett said: “This is the third term, and several parents had the challenges of wondering whether they should purchase the uniforms for those in first year to standard four, that have not been out in the school system for the last two years.
“That challenge is a real one, we are cognisant of the safety aspects and the identification aspects of our school uniforms. However, we have to be mindful of the extended physical absence from schools since March or April 2020 and the economic challenges faced by our parents in the space.”
She said, therefore, the division would mandate that Tobago schools relax the uniform requirements but she issued a warning.
“Parents, where possible, if you have uniforms for your children, let them wear their uniforms. It is not an excuse to now go out there randomly just putting on whatever you feel to put on. You have that responsibility to ensure that your children wear their uniform if they have their uniform, of course, if it fits.”
Hackett said if that was not the case, students should revert to the alternative of the physical education uniform. If that fails, she said parents and guardians should seek the approval from the principals on what children should wear to schools.
“We’re allowing the middle management to come into play here. We are going to ask that you seek that approval and principals. You have the responsibility of looking at these scenarios on a case-by-case basis to ensure that our students are not denied their right to an education.”
With regards to the school feeding programme, she said boxed lunches would not be available in the first week of the third term.
“We have a very short week, school resumes in the Tobago space on April 20 – so the 20th, 21st and 22nd school lunches would not be provided.
“I wish we could, but logistically we cannot and, so parents, I want you to be prepared to provide lunches for your children in those first three days.”
The school nutrition programme, she said, will recommence next Monday.
With regard school transportation, Hackett said that situation had also been addressed.
“The division would be responsible for the recruitment and payment of the maxi taxi drivers, while PTSC (Public Transport Service Corporation) is going to be responsible for monitoring the maxi taxis transportation system across the island.”