Anna-Lisa Paul

The Ministry of Education (MoE) on Tuesday continued discussions with education stakeholders on how operations for the remainder of the academic school year 2021/2022 will be done.

And although no final plans have as yet been determined, denominational school board representatives continued to submit their recommendations and concerns to the MoE.

Chief Executive Officer, Catholic Education Board, Sharon Mangroo said they put forth three recommendations which Education Minister Dr Nyan Gadsby-Dolly promised to consider.

It included permission by the MoE to allow principals autonomy to continue operating their schools as best as they believe; the establishment of an online forum where answers can be obtained by teachers and principals via a Q&A format from the MoE; and greater collaboration with the Student Support Services Division in developing curricula and activities for students attending in-person classes that they would not currently be receiving whilst online.

Mangroo, who also holds the post of chairman of the Association of Denominational Boards of Education – said concerns were raised regarding the adequate supervision of students upon their return to the classroom.

She revealed that a request was made, “for the additional support for the supervision of students.”

Claiming this was also a concern voiced by other stakeholders, Mangroo said Gadsby-Dolly shared what they were already working on to address this particular request.

“She has spoken to the On-The-Job (OJT) people to provide additional OJT’s so that when principals approach for additional persons, they will be prepared to give,” Mangroo said.

Pressed to say what plans were discussed regarding the return of students in Forms One to Three – as well as students in primary schools, she pointed to a document issued by the MoE last week detailing those plans.

However, she stressed that no final guidelines have been issued and that these meetings are for the MoE to solicit the views of all stakeholders.

The MoE met with officials from the Trinidad and Tobago Unified Teachers Association (TTUTA) on Monday.

Questioned about how the Catholic Board was set to address COVID-19 outbreaks within their schools this term, Mangroo said, “One concern that principals shared was about the return of people from abroad who have a negative PCR test, but some days later, may turn up positive.”

“So they are asking for a delayed period from when they return to when they come to school,” she continued.

While no further meetings have as yet been scheduled, Mangroo underscored, “These are proposals that are being considered. These are not edicts that are being made as consultations continue before any final decisions are made.”

One official who represented teachers at the Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) level, indicated her satisfaction with the MoE’s proposal to bring this cohort of students back to school.

Mangroo assured, “Everybody is appreciative of the consultation that is taking place before decisions are implemented.”

In its draft document last week, the MoE proposed four models for the resumption of classes for secondary schools; while it was proposed to return both ECCE and primary school students from Infants to Standard Four on a rotational basis.