As TT navigates the covid19 pandemic, the Ministry of Education announced critical changes to how the new school term will be run.

Recently appointed Minister of Education Dr Nyan Gadsby-Dolly announced in a press conference at the Ministry of Education, St Vincent Street, Port of Spain that schools will reopen from September 1 and the term will run from September 1 to December 11.

Teaching and learning will take place remotely.

Students are not expected to report to school for classes unless further advised to do so, Gadsby-Dolly said.

Initially it was said that there would not be a third term because of the increasing covid19 cases in TT.

When schools reopen in September, the first week (September 1-4) will be used for new student and teacher orientation as well as planning activities.

The following week, September 7-14 will see student orientation, parent orientation, learning resource preparation and further planning. She said schools can begin teaching and learning at this time but all schools should be teaching and learning by September 14.

Out of the approximately 225,000 students in TT, some 65,000 were without devices and connectivity, Gadbsy-Dolly said.

She said teachers will be faced with two types of students in their remote classrooms – those who can participate in the online and those who cannot.

She made an appeal on Friday for corporate TT to assist the Government in providing the 65,000 students with devices and connectivity. She added, while the Government was going to provide some devices, she asked for the assistance of corporate TT in devices and connectivity to students.

For those students with online access, Gadbsy-Dolly said teachers were free to engage these students using the ministry’s guidelines for online teaching. For students who do not have online access, she said printed packages will be made available at schools and training will be provided for teachers in the preparation of material for remote teaching.

She said this be made available at the schools for parents to collect and drop off.

She added once weekly, parents will collect the packages at the schools for their children, have it done at home and then return it to the school where they will collect packages that have been corrected.

She added that Work From Home arrangements for teachers are to be encouraged and “principals should approve this once delivery of the curriculum is not compromised.”

She added that if teachers needed to use connectivity, printing and so on that should be available for them at the school compound.

The ministry will also utilise media in its teaching arrangements. She said that Channel 4 and 16 have been assigned to run instructional material and a schedule will be published. Radio features will also be used to provide general education content to the children.

For ECCE and infant students weekly newspaper pull-outs will be done.

As for tests, Gadsby-Dolly said there will be no final exams and rather continuous assessment will be used for grading.

“Parents will be expected to play a critical role in the supervision of their children, understanding that parents are out to work as well. But that is why we are intending that the learning is not only synchronous...even though there will be timetables for those who are online and provided to your children.

“So that you will spend most of what used to be a normal school day engaged in work. It is also recommended for teachers that they give work from school books. After work, parents can check up and children are engaged in what they should be.

“That is very critical going forward because this is a partnership with all of us. So we expect the schools to do their part, we expect the teachers to do their part, we expect parents to do their part and the students to do their part. And the ministry to do their part in ensuring all of us are engaged in this most important process and that will be the way we can get the best success for our children,” she said.

These were not the only changes she announced. She also said there would be changes to the School Feeding Programme with the lunches now being available through MPs offices.

The programme will now see 500 lunches per day delivered to the MPs offices which will be distributed throughout communities to children who need it.

Asked about special needs, Gadbsy-Dolly said they will be catered for through the Student Support Services Division and parents were to engage their children’s schools on the way forward.

She added, however, that many schools have indicated that they were ready for the new term.

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