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Shamila Raheem

The National Primary Schools Principals’ Association (NAPSPA) has welcomed the announcement that the Secondary Entrance Assessment (SEA) exam would now be postponed to July 1.

Education Minister Dr Nyan Gadsby-Dolly yesterday said the June 10 exam would be postponed June 10, due to increases in COVID-19 cases in the past several weeks.

In a release last evening, NAPSPA President Carlene Hayes said, “Our Association has always held strong views that the health and safety of students, teachers, and all stakeholders must be given top priority in decision making.”

NAPSPA is hoping the delay would be sufficient time for officials to deal with a number of outstanding issues which they believe are critical to the safety and well being of all involved.

These include preference being given to principals and staff who would like to receive the vaccine and will be involved in the administration of the SEA 2021.

Haynes revealed that, “Based on data collected, even though 38 per centof primary school teachers would have initially volunteered to work for SEA 2021, at least 20 per cent of them have now changed their minds due to the drastic increase in COVID- 19 cases and related deaths.”

NAPSPA is also calling for consultation with principals, “since they are the ones who are being called upon to interact with students, parents and other persons physically at schools and therefore continually put themselves (and by extension their families) at risk.”

NCPTA pleased

Also signalling its satisfaction with the decision to p

ostpone the SEA exam, the National Council of Parent-Teacher Associations (NCPTA) said it felt vindicated by the announcement.

NCPTA’s Public Relations Officer Shamila Raheem said, “We have been advocating for this for quite a while now because we analyzed the situation and knew what took place during the Easter weekend. We anticipated that the COVID would have increased significantly and it has.”

She commended officials, “It was a sensible decision to make. It was the right decision given the circumstances.”

She urged parents to “continue working in the right way with their children, ease up a bit, give them a little breathing ground, find time to do other activities with them, talk to them, find out what’s happening with your children.”

Raheem also had some advice for children who are still unhappy being stuck at home.

“Those who were not ready now, have some time to be ready, those who are stressed and struggling, it’s ok, it’s just an exam. It wouldn’t be your first….it wouldn’t be your last.”

TTUTA: It was not worth risking lives

Hours before the announcement by the Minister of Education yesterday, the General Council of the TT Unified Teachers Association (TTUTA) met in an emergency session during which serious concerns were expressed about the administration of the SEA exam on June 10.

Indicating they were not insensitive to the circumstances that would arise should the SEA not be administered on the scheduled date, they said, “TTUTA does not believe that anyone’s life should be put in jeopardy for an examination.”

TTUTA said the pandemic had highlighted several issues including inequities within the education system.

Further, they said due to the restrictions of the State of Emergency, certain educators would have required passes/exemptions for them to be able to reach the examination centres in order for the SEA to begin on time.

“The movement of large numbers of adults and students on June 10 is counter-productive to the whole reason for the State of Emergency,” the union wrote.

TTUTA also said the vaccination of educators should be a priority, within the broader plan to repopulate schools and resume face to face classes.

Commenting on the mental trauma associated with the current circumstances which they described as, “overwhelming for both educators and students,” TTUTA claimed, “There are high levels of ‘COVID anxiety and fear.”

And they accused the MOE of providing limited support and information to various groups of educators on the hosting of SEA 2021.

They urged all educator or anyone associated with education put their lives in jeopardy and engage in any activity to compromise their health and safety.