PARENTS have mixed feelings about the guidelines for the reopening of schools which the Ministry of Education released on Monday.
The guidelines outline a “blended learning approach,” where students will rotate facetime and online classes every other day. Students will also move on to the next class level in primary and secondary schools.
While some parents are okay with the system and expressed their support of the guidelines, others said they had concerns. The parents requested anonymity.
“I have no concerns about the proposal,” said one parent who has two daughters in forms four and five. “My family will be able to support it because of our schedules. I have some flexibility in my job, and we have extended family for support.” She added her only concern would be if the guidelines are properly rolled out properly by the secondary school.
She said the school has not reached out to parents yet on how they plan to implement the guidelines in the new school year, which begins on September 1, but assumes this is only because of ongoing CSEC and CAPE exams. “They wouldn’t want to talk about anything else right now to confuse the students.”
She said her daughters will be promoted to their new classes in September, and is not too concerned about them catching up because their teachers continued the relevant syllabus online during the lockdown when schools closed in March. “I can’t imagine they would have covered every single thing, but the children are moving forward next term.”
Her eldest daughter, who had her first CSEC exam on Monday, said while she prefers online classes, most of her classmates do not feel the same way. “They find it very difficult,” she said.
Other parents are not as confident. “It feels like the child would be missing out,” said another mother, whose son is set to advance to form three in September. She said her son has not completed the term three syllabus because of the stay-at-home order. At the time, his teachers were just doing revision of past material.
“It’s too much work for that short space of time. I might have to spend more on lessons.”
She said the school has not yet contacted parents to say how the guidelines would be implemented. “We are unsure of what is going on.”
She said her concern is how much would the children retain in the first term, which is 15 weeks, given they have a term’s work to catch up on.
Another parent agreed saying, “Those who will be most affected are the form fours and lower six students.” She said because this is usually where the workload intensifies, having to add last term’s syllabus will be “unfair” to students.
One father, whose daughter is being promoted to standard one, said her school told parents that although they will be advancing in September, the first six weeks will be dedicated to reinforcing last term’s work.
President of the Secondary Schools Principal Association Ronald Mootoo said on Monday he was satisfied with the guidelines. “Right now, it is actually what we would have indicated to the ministry we would like for them to give out, so it is satisfactory,” he said. “There will always be one or two instances as we go along that we would have to negotiate, but for now, the guidelines are sufficient.”
QRC principal David Simon said he felt the ministry did a “wonderful job” in producing a document for principals and teachers to work with. When asked if he felt prepared to have the new guidelines implemented in time for the September reopening, he said, “All stakeholders must work together to ensure everything works out well.”
“I don’t see issues, I see things that we need to sort out to be able to continue the process of educating our children because they have endured quite a lot. We all want to return to normalcy.”
(See Page 11A)