Schools take initiative to help students without online access
A primary school in St Vincent
May 22, 2020

Schools take initiative to help students without online access

Principals and teachers alike are joining forces to ensure that their students have access to necessary material to excel academically, even before school formally reopens on Monday.

Reports earlier this week were that at least two schools, the Dorsetshire Hill Government School and one other primary school held classes for some students ahead of the May 25 scheduled date.

But principals of both schools told SEARCHLIGHT this week that they have not disobeyed the Ministry of Education as their schools are not formally open.

Class set up at Dorsetshire Hill Government School for social distancing

“Some of the children were not having access,” Patricia James, principal of the Dorsetshire Hill Government School said, alluding to the e-learning platforms that students have been using for some weeks now.

Both Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves and Minister of Education St Clair Prince have stated publicly that some students have been experiencing challenges accessing the information for various reasons including the absence of devices, Internet connectivity and even electricity.

The principal said parents were willing to send their children back to school so that they could have some guidance on projects that are to be submitted next week to CXC in preparation for the CPEA examinations, scheduled for June 25 and 26.

“We’re just trying to help,” she said.

When schools open on Monday, it will be for Grade 6, Form 5 and TVET students.

The principal of another primary school, who asked not to be identified, also gave a similar response in relation to the issue.

“School is not school as usual,” the principal stressed.

The educator said that teachers have seen students but it has not been on a daily basis and “it’s just because there are some children that you cannot reach”.

The principal said that school’s teachers have gone as far as going through the village, looking for children to ensure that they receive their work so as to not fall behind because of lack of access to the online platforms.

The Dorsetshire Hill Government School has 11 students in Grade 6 and the other school, fewer than 20.

And the principals attest to taking all the precautions to ensure everyone’s safety, not just for now but also when school formally opens on Monday.

Dorsetshire Hill’s principal said that the school’s fairly new building has an open concept which allows for physical distancing to effectively take place.

She added that the school was cleaned and sanitised both inside and outside, and there are adequate bathroom facilities for all Grade 6 students.

James further noted that students are encouraged to maintain their distance from each other and both classrooms and bathrooms will be sanitised regularly throughout the day.

The other principal told SEARCHLIGHT their school was “1000 per cent” ready to be reopened come May 25.

The school leader said there will only be six students per classroom so as to maintain physical distancing and that cleaners will be engaged on a regular basis to maintain proper cleaning and sanitisation of the compound.