After 2 years of pandemic stress – All schools reopen on Tuesday

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

COLOURING ESSENTIALS: Kaynia Charles, three, with her box of crayons on Saturday at Naipaul’s Book Store in Arima where parents gathered to engage in last-minute shopping for school supplies in time for the start of the new term on Tuesday. PHOTO BY ROGER JACOB –

AFTER two years of pandemic restrictions which affected the education sector in one way or another, all students – from kindergarten to tertiary levels – will return to the physical classroom today for the start of the new school term.

On March 28, Minister of Education Dr Nyan Gadsby-Dolly announced the full reopening of schools set for Tuesday April 19.

This means students from the Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) centres as well as primary, secondary and tertiary levels will head to classrooms to face their teachers.

In September, the ministry began a phased reopening in keeping with a similar controlled lifting of public health restrictions in keeping with the decrease in the number of covid19 deaths and hospitalisations and especially as the milder Omicron strain had taken in TT, replacing the deadlier Delta strain of the virus.

Vaccinated students in Forms 4-6 were allowed to return to classes in secondary schools. The ministry then allowed unvaccinated students to return to schools, and in February, lower form students (forms one-three) were allowed back to classes despite their vaccination status.

Parents shopping for at Charran’s Book Store in Trincity Mall on Saturday. PHOTO BY ROGER JACOB –

Students have been attending schools virtually with the ministry implementing several measures to accommodate the transition to online learning, including the Adopt a School programme where private and corporate donors could purchase laptops for the schools of their choice.

During the March 28 press conference, Gadsby-Dolly reminded students to maintain their physical distance and to wear masks. She also asked parents to remind their children to adhere to the rules to minimise spread of the virus – wear a mask, maintain a physical distance and practise hand hygiene.

Ironically, the minister was diagnosed with covid19 which prevented her from attending the recent President’s Medal winners ceremony at President’s House in St Ann’s.

Minister in the Ministry of Education Lisa Morris Julien said that a bubble approach will be used for ECCE students where the same group of children and staff will be together at these centres and interactions with other bubbles will be restricted.

Morris-Julien hosted an Easter caravan on Monday where she distributed bags of snacks, small toys and schools items such as pens and erasers to children in her constituency of D’Abadie/O’Meara.

“It was just to cheer up children who might not be too thrilled about tomorrow as well as those who are extremely happy about it,” she told Newsday.

The caravan started at the Larry Gomes Stadium car-park in Malabar and included members of the Bikers’ Association and a music truck.

When contacted on Monday, president of the Estate Police Association (EPA) Deryck Richardson said there are some concerns among MTS guards – who are responsible for guard duties at Govt schools – as they were not being paid on time.

Speaking by telephone, Richardson said this issue was not just with the Ministry of Education but with other ministries as well.

“We’ve always had complaints of ministries not paying contractors. We’ve had a lot of complaints where people have not been paid on time. Schools are going to open and some (guards) are complaining they still haven’t received monies from the education ministry,” Richardson said.