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Teaching May Have To Adapt

EDUCATION Minister Jeff Lloyd.

EDUCATION Minister Jeff Lloyd.

By LEANDRA ROLLE

Tribune Staff Reporter

lrolle@tribunemedia.net

EDUCATION officials are considering class rotations and limiting face-to-face instruction between teachers and students when the new school year begins, Minister of Education Jeff Lloyd said yesterday. 

However, these considerations will depend on the advice from health officials to contain the spread of COVID-19, Mr Lloyd said.

This includes enforcing social distancing guidelines and other hygiene requirements recommended by health officials, he said.

However, the minister said nothing has been finalised as discussions are still ongoing.

Speaking to reporters ahead of a Cabinet meeting yesterday, the South Beach MP said: “You can expect that if the health authorities continue to issue mandates as they have been previously, of course, naturally so (such as) physical distancing and other hygienic requirements then yes, the operations of school in 2020/21 is going to change.

“We’re looking at several options at the moment. Naturally, school in the face-to-face instruction will not be the same. So therefore, some form of blended engagement is going to be required. What does that mean and how does that manifest itself? I’m not so sure at the moment. But, we are aggressively looking at it and also consulting with our stakeholders but it does certainly require that if we are going to maintain physical distance of six feet and if we are going to be fair to the citizens of our country, the students in particular, then some form of rotation, shifts or whatever you want to call it is going to have to be implemented.

“And when I say blended, it means that some face-to-face only a part of the day, a part of the week along with the virtual engagement, the virtual school which was excellently administered over the past several months during COVID.”

In March, the government mandated the closure of schools after the country recorded its first COVID-19 case, resulting in many local institutions shifting to online classes to allow students to continue their studies at home.

However, after schools closed, several private schools sent out notices to parents demanding outstanding school fees be paid despite thousands being laid off due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Asked yesterday if the ministry was prepared to see an influx of students in the public system due to the economic uncertainty of COVID-19, Mr Lloyd said yes. He also said the government will be providing financial assistance to schools negatively impacted by the global pandemic.

“That means additional financial support,” he said yesterday. “That support is going to take the form of, I believe, at least two applications. One, an immediate injection potentially to assist those who have struggled as a result of non-payment of fees or whatever else and they have to maintain their staff and possible increases in subvention for those schools who again demonstrate that their circumstance requires government’s assistance in that regard.”

Recognising the significant role the private sectors plays in education, Mr Lloyd added: “Listen, we recognise and value and accept the system cannot operate efficiently without the contribution of the private sector. That’s a given. We do not in the Ministry of Education have the physical space to absorb 70-plus thousands of students.

“Right now, we have 46 (thousand) and the rest of it is in the private sector so we naturally need to have the private sector play a role and the government needs to support it. To what form that support will take, as I indicated, it could also be in terms of one time injection as well as increase of subvention and that subvention this year is the total of some $15m.”

The minister was also asked yesterday for an update on school repairs in Abaco, which was devastated by Hurricane Dorian last year. He replied: “Patrick Bethel is probably not going to be ready. It’s no chance for Patrick Bethel to be ready (due) to extensive damage.”

“Number two, the contractor has only been engaged now for approximately a month and the work that is needed to be done, no way it is going to be ready. All the other schools, yes, we are very hopeful, and we expect that will be.

“Central Abaco Primary is going to be ready and they are well about 90 percent on the way so we only have 10 percent to cover in the next two months.”

Comments

sheeprunner12 1 month, 1 week ago

Jeff Lloyd has a million other questions to answer ........................... Covid is just the latest

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licks2 3 weeks ago

This one of the most mixed up conch salad thinking I ever see come from the MOE. . .no wonder Mrs Wilson called their Director incompetent. . .and the minister is being lead right along the rabbit trail to poor outcomes! For example, even if they give half virtual time and half face-to-face time, who will deal with the children when the economy re-opens!! There will be a whole cultural-economic re-structuring, not just shifting parts of the current cultural-economic paradigm ,but removing the whole current paradigms in how we do work, school, home and parenting all together!! This will not work in a society with parents working. . . over 30,000 children at home unattended at any one time in the school day!! This is just as damning for a combined virtual/face-to-face scenario. There are too many "opps" assuming in reality required for good decisions making in total or partial virtual schools configurations beyond immediate crisis responding. The capital and social disorganization that will be caused is mind boggling. . .I don't see how they can not see what the parents and the union see. . .it will be a disaster in Texas size proportions!!

That department is confusing it's covid19 phasic immediate (which is corvid19 mitigation only) medium-presumptive and long-term virtual school capabilities for future developments. Virtual teaching is never meant for whole schooling except for short terms following crisis or distances of few from population centers! As we are now. . .children and most parents of some other caregiver is at home not working in the national economy!! Virtual school can work in the immediate term because of the "care-base" readily available because the high unemployment! Remove that base by return to employment. . .partial or full virtual schooling will create a national disaster children and parents having to be always home to take care of 30,000 to 60,000 school children at any one virtual school day!!

Return to in-class face-to-face with social distancing, hand washing sanitizing, temperature checks and other covid mitigations with a vaccine is the most sane medium and long-term strategy for return to school. . .

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