By Sue-Ann Wayow
A MINISTRY of Education Health Unit is expected to be set up in each education district as part of its preparations for the physical re-opening of school next year.
Each unit would include at least one County Medical Officer of Health (CMOH) and eight nurses. This unit, in collaboration with school Health and Safety Officers will manage the health protocols at schools.
The Ministry of Education in a press release issued on Monday, confirmed Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley’s announcement that school will re-open virtually on January 4, 2021 with provisions being made for pupils writing examinations to have classes at the schools’ compounds.
Shortly after the home-based re-opening, the Caribbean Examinations Council’s (CXC) January examinations will begin on January 17 and continue to February 4.
The Ministry of Education has proposed a phased physical re-opening with Phase I of the Reopening Plan being finalized presently and subject to take effect from February 8 2021.
In addition to the Health Unit, the ministry is also proposing that Standard Five and Forms Four to Six pupils be allowed into physical classes, the school day to be slightly shortened, pupils must wear masks and arrangements would be made for schools to set up and operate a parallel system for those who do not return to the physical classroom.
The ministry stated that by December 11, a second draft of the Guidelines for the Physical Reopening of Schools will be circulated to stakeholders which will be followed by a meeting in the first week of January 2021, after parties have had the opportunity to review the document.
The ministry intends to have the final version completed and issued within the second week of January 2021.
The ministry stated, “The education of our nation’s children is the responsibility of all. Our actions this season will impact the ability of students to return to school in Term Two. Citizens are encouraged to continue to observe the recommendations made by the health authorities to prevent the spread of Covid-19.”