San Fernando students happy to be back at school after 2 years

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Tricia Balliram hugs her children Farah, left, and Farryn Ballram as they arrive at the San Fernando Girls’ Government School, San Fernando as schools re-open across the country Photo by Ayanna Kinsale

Many students in San Fernando expressed their delight at being able to return to full physical school two years after schools across the country were closed owuing to the covid19 pandemic.

As expected, the reopening on Tuesday saw an increase in traffic. Butregular and municipal police, as well as traffic wardens, were on hand to direct traffic.

At St Gabriel’s Girls’ RC at Lord Street, scores of parents dropped off their children at the front gate.

This teacher walks her students to their classe at the Grant Memorial Presbyterian School in San Fernando. Photo by Ayanna Kinsale

Stacey Sevier-Joseph escorted her daughter Skylar Thomas and niece Jahzara Benn. She said the girls were nervous but excited to return.

She said theywoke up at about 6 am, the same time they did before the pandemic, to get to school.

Sevier-Joseph said her daughter liked online classes because she got home-cooked hot meals during her lunch break. The standard three student had also enjoyed an hour of extra sleep for the past two years.

The mother admitted she had to adjust to “get back in school mode.”

But, she said, “I was able to get everything done. We (parents) did our best to get everything done.”

She said her daughter had outgrown her uniforms, and she had to buy new ones.

“The children are growing, and we might have to change uniforms again by the next school term. So it is like a double expense for us.”

At San Fernando Boys’ RC on Harris Promenade, nine-year-old Darren Newton was happy to return to physical classes. He was too shy to say anything else, and his father, Darren Newton Sr spoke on his behalf.

“He sees the physical reopening as a plus. He wanted to come to school today,” the father said. “It is his first physical day at this school, because he was transferred from another school. However, he knows his classmates from the virtual classes. His two sisters, ten and five, attend St Gabriel’s Girls’ RC.”

The father of a seven-year-old standard one student, who asked to remain unnamed, said his son was “disoriented.”

The man said, “It is like a new culture to him. This is a new experience for him. He is disoriented and does not know if he should be anxious or not.”

At Grant Memorial Presbyterian Primary School, parents drove next door into the Susamachar Presbyterian Church grounds and dropped off children. Staff then escorted them to their classes.

San Fernando major Junia Regrello joined municipal police to observe the reopening at the promenade.

Parents walk their children to their classes at the Grant Memorial Presbyterian School in San Fernando. Photo by Ayanna Kinsale

He said municipal and regular police took a co-ordinated approach to ensure a smooth flow of traffic during this “transition period.”

“The municipal police are managing this area between the three schools – San Fernando Boys’ RC, St Joseph Convent and St Gabriel’s Girl RC – to ensure a free flow of traffic,” Regrello said.

He added that homeless people are often seen nearby, particularly near the two girls’ schools. The police are there to prevent any offences such as molestation and indecent exposure.

Kelly Collins adjusts her daughter Myah Mondesir’s school bag at the San Fernando Girls’ Government School, San Fernando. Photo by Ayanna Kinsale

“We have some naked homeless people walking around the city. That is unacceptable. We do not want that kind of presence,” Regrello said. Otherwise, he added, “We are seeing a flow of students. Everything seems normal, and there are no hiccups.”