National Primary Schools Prinicipals’ Association president Lance Mottley

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There are mixed views among some following the Ministry of Education’s decision to go ahead with the Secondary Entrance Assessment (SEA) on Thursday, but for the most part parents of students actually sitting the exam are satisfied with the decision.

While lamenting that schools may not be able to reopen again this year due to recent developments with the COVID-19 virus locally on Saturday, Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley confirmed the rescheduled exam is still on.

The examination, initially carded for April, had to be postponed in light of the pandemic and it was eventually decided it would take place on August 20. Students were initially asked to return for preparation classes a month before the examination but that plan was shelved shortly after the virus affected some students either directly or indirectly and forced the closure of over a dozen schools engaged in that exercise.

Yesterday, Rachiel Ramsamooj, administrator of the SEA Parent Support Group on Facebook, told Guardian Media, they were happy the exam was not moved again.

“We’re not only considering the safety of the students but also the mental health aspect of the students,” Ramsamooj said.

“If we have to postpone this exam once again, it would really devastate the children because they have been preparing for this continuously since March and we have been assured, based on feedback from our schools, that the sanitisation process has been completed, in some schools (it) is still ongoing and the protocols would be in place on the exam day itself.”

National Primary Schools Principals’ Association president Lance Mottley is also pleased the examination was not cancelled. The association has always maintained the examination should still be carried out once it is done safely. Recent spikes in COVID-19 cases, however, had caused him to question if current health protocols are sufficient. In light of this, a meeting was called last night with NAPSPA’s executive where concerns were to be ventillated. Any concerns or recommendations, Mottley said, will be raised with the Ministry of Education before the examination.

But the National Council of Parent Teachers’ Associations (NPTA) still holds the view that the latest developments pose too much of a threat to the safety of students to allow the examination to continue.

“Our organisation is pleased that there would not be any school until the end of the year but the (SEA) examination still continues and I don’t understand why so much importance is placed on just an examination, especially with the rise of COVID,” NPTA public relations officer Shamilla Raheem said.

However, she noted the association will be more open to the examination if 100 per cent assurance is given that students and teachers will be safe.