Following Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley’s announcement on Saturday of plans for the resumption of virtual classes, the Ministry of Education has confirmed January 4 as the first day of the news term with the Caribbean Examinations Council’s (CXC) examinations taking place from January 17 to February 4.

A release from the ministry stated that the remote opening will precede plans for students preparing for examinations to physically return to school, once deemed possible by the Ministry of Health. A phased physical re-opening is planned with Phase I expected to take place from February 8.

The proposal includes:

° Return of students preparing for examinations: Standard 5, Forms 4-6

° Students to be masked

° School day to be slightly shortened

° Ministry of Education Health Unit to be set up in each Education District to include at least one County Medical Officer of Health (CMOH) and eight nurses. This unit, in collaboration with School Health and Safety Officers, will manage the health protocols at schools.

° Arrangements for schools to set up and operate a parallel system for students who do not return to the physical classroom.

A second draft of the Guidelines for the Physical Reopening of Schools will be circulated by December 11 to be followed by a stakeholder meeting in the first week of January 2021, after parties have had the opportunity to review the document. The Ministry intends to have the final version of Guidelines for Physical Reopening of Schools completed and issued within the second week of January 2021.