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A security guard looks at St Joseph Covent students as they head to their classroom on the first day of the new school term in San Fernando yesterday.

As schools reopened yesterday, at least one secondary school, Presentation College in San Fernando, is reporting a 100 per cent vaccination rate among its staff.

Welcoming students back to school after the Christmas holidays, principal Dexter Mitchell reminded and urged students to follow all COVID-19 protocols.

“As of the 3rd of January all members of the teaching staff, civil service staff, Nalis, maintenance and security are vaccinated so we have a 100 per cent staff vaccinated,” he told Guardian Media.

However, in his welcoming remarks to the students, the principal indicated that teachers had tested positive.

“Always be on your guard. Treat every person you encounter as a possible spreader of the virus so we have to wear masks appropriately, appropriate means covering the nose and the mouth. We have to be physically distanced as far as possible. That’s why we have half of a class coming out so we could maintain even beyond that three feet that the ministry talked about. We could maintain a little more than that,” said Mitchell.

He also reminded students to sanitize and wear their masks at all times, unless they are alone. “You want to ensure that the school is a safe zone for both you and myself. We have some members of staff who have tested positive and they are home. Some are on leave officially. Some are feeling a little better and they said they will do online classes and I said it’s up to them really. That’s why we all have to maintain all those protocols.”

Jerelle Thorne, a Form 5 student, said he was happy to be back out to school to see his friends. But, he said he was taking the virus very seriously as he is aware that while he may not get seriously ill if he contracts the virus because of his age, he could take the virus home to his older family members and “bad things might happen.”

Meanwhile, classes will remain virtual when tuition resumes at The University of the West Indies (The UWI) on January 17. This was confirmed by Kobe Sandy, president of The UWI St Augustine (UWI-STA) Guild of Students, following his meeting on Monday with UWI-STA Principal, Professor Brian Copeland, to address questions about the campus’ physical reopening for Semester Two.

“We agreed that it is impossible to bring all of the students—the whole campus—back in full force because of the difficulty to manage physical distancing,” he told Guardian Media.

Sandy said after the meeting, they were assured that there would be no full in-person classes for this semester at all. This followed a release by the Guild, in which they asked whether the campus would reopen to all students. They said they needed at least three months’ notice to prepare and also asked for better communication. While there are students who may have to physically attend classes because of the nature of their programmes, Sandy said virtual classes will continue until further notice for the wider student population.

Presently, physical classes have resumed only for Forms Four to Six students while the others are being taught via the online platform. On December 22, the Ministry of Education announced the phasing-in of more students back to physical school.

Meanwhile, Education Minister Dr Nyan Gadsby-Dolly said there were no major incidents reported to the ministry regarding the reopening of schools yesterday. However, she was still awaiting the attendance data sent in by principals up to yesterday afternoon. National Parent Teacher Association president Zena Ramatali and Trinidad and Tobago Unified Teachers Association president Antonia Tekah DeFreitas also had no complaints from their members.