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Primary school reopens today

Today marks the beginning of the 2020/2021 school year and an official virtual school opening ceremony was held this morning by the Ministry of Education.

Today marks the beginning of the 2020/2021 school year and an official virtual school opening ceremony was held this morning by the Ministry of Education. At the ceremony the Minister of Education, Patrick Faber gave his opening remarks. He noted that this year will be different and challenging due to the new measures that persons must adapt. The new academic school year is all about distance education learning during the Covid-19 pandemic. Minister Faber outlined some of the things the Ministry will be doing to assist teachers and students this time around.

Hon. Patrick Faber, Minister of Education, Youth, Sports and Culture: “I know this will be a school year filled with anxieties, doubts and uncertainties but I want to assure you that the Ministry of Education will do everything in its power to ensure that students are meaningfully engaged in distanced education and that health, safety and students’s welfare are our priorities. Let me share some of the things we are implementing to ensure the success of every student. Students at the pre primary and primary level will have access to free workbooks filled with activities to reinforce the topics taught. Each school will develop a lending library and give story books to each child with guided questions. The National Library Service is also making it possible for parents to borrow about four books over a four week period. We will develop a literacy corner on the Ministry’s Facebook page. The objective of the literacy corner is to encourage daily reading and writing. Teachers will model how to read to and with your children. We will develop model lessons at the various levels with easy to follow research based strategies that parents can use to facilitate learning. Teachers will provide ongoing support to students and parents. Schools are advised to develop a communication plan with parents. Parents I implore you to use this channel of communication.”

Love News reached out to primary schools to see how their first day went. We spoke with the Principal of the La Inmaculada RC School, Lenny Umana who told us that they will be meeting with parents today and tomorrow about the new measures being implemented.

Lenny Umana, Principal, La Immaculada RC Primary School: “We followed all the guidelines that we could put in place that’s temperature testing at the entrance, hand washing and also social distance markers to assist parents and guide them. Our teachers also came well protected with their hand sanitizers, their face masks, their face shields an even gloves because we had to handle some signatures and exchange of pens and paper so we tried to prioritize in the safety of our teachers and our parents alike.”

Reporter: You said you’re meeting with the parents today and tomorrow ? 

Lenny Umana, Principal, La Immaculada RC Primary School: “Yes we are because it’s a large population at our school so we have to make sure that we do not have so many people at one spot for any given time so we have spread out the distribution packaging at different hours throughout the day between today and tomorrow. The packages for this month, the month of September includes what we call the learning recovery package which is actually encompassing everything that we have done in third term and ensuring that before we move on our children at La Inmaculada have grasped the concepts of third term. We have also tried to bridge a gap by making sure that our parents join a gmail account through Google classroom for their children so that we can help guide these children during the weeks along with the packages that they have in hand. It cannot go full force because we need to understand that not all our students can get connected especially that high school also use the internet in the house hold but at least twice a week we’re going to try to come on line and give that first hand support to our students through the Google Classroom platform but then we have also closed in the gap by ensuring that all of our parent are online with us via a Whatsapp or via our La Inmaculada School app. So we have three mediums that we will be reaching out to children.”

La Inmaculada School has enrolled 950 students for this school year and according to the Principal there have been some concerns coming from parents and teachers.

Lenny Umana, Principal, La Immaculada RC Primary School: “The greatest concern is ensuring that none of us catch the virus. My teachers are having a challenging time because we need to understand that teachers are also experiencing new changes, things that they are not used to so at adapting to the new kind of technology, going into platforms and linking different things into their little pages, creating their little Bitmojis and what we would call the online classroom setting is not easy and teachers that would take maybe a year to come online have done that in a matter of two weeks. It has been challenging but it has not been impossible. It has been frustrating but we are managing and we are taking the first month of September as a test run to see how best this can work, this is an extra giving to our children. The other side of it is the parent you know I understand that most parents work, we’re going through challenging times and they will practically doing I would say 50% of the work at home to get their children on target along with us so I could imaging their frustration trying to do their job plus also do the job at home of helping to guide their children. So in both ends we can see that yes there is challenges ahead but I am sure that with effort and team effort they give me 50% our school will give the best they can make it  70% if possible and try to find a way forward.”