CMC News:- The Dominica government has announced new dates for the re-opening of schools here, blaming the recent upsurge in coronavirus (COVID-19) cases for the situation.
“The Covid-19 pandemic continues to significantly impact all the sectors within the country and the education system in Dominica is no exception. The most increase in cases has necessitated that the Ministry of Education postpones the reopening of schools on the island,” said Education Minister Octavia Alfred.
The government only this week lifted a three week old curfew aimed at curbing the spread of the virus warning that it cannot be business as usual and that the authorities would continue to put measures in place for a safe phased re-opening of the country.
Dominica has recorded one death and 1,339 positive cases of the virus since the first case was detected in March last year.
Alfred said that the Ministry of Education understands the anxiety of parents and students and “we have spent the better part of the last three weeks in planning for the reopening of school”.
She said that as from September 1-10, teachers will be engaged in planning and training and that “during this time, parents and the general public will also be engaged”.
She said that from September 13th to October 1, instructions will commence fully online for fifth form students only, noting that “based on a survey carried out by the Minister of Education, all students moving from fourth to fifth form have devices and also have their textbooks.
“We have a very low number of students who do not have access to the internet at home; these students will be accommodated at the primary schools in their villages taking into consideration the necessary protocols,” Alfred said, adding that all teachers will “work from their schools as schools have internet and devices for use by teachers”.
The Education Minister said that to formalize online learning; students will also follow a structured timetable.
“They will be in class from 8:00 am to 2:00 pm (local time) with six 45 minutes sessions, two 15 minute eye and brain breaks, and one 20 minute snack break,” Alfred said, adding that the students are expected to dress in school uniforms even while attending classes at home.
“Classes will be monitored by Education Officers, principals, and lead teachers…students from first to fourth form will begin instructions from October 4.”
The government said that primary school students are expected to also begin instructions on October 4 and that it is in the process of finalizing the model of instruction that will be utilized.
Alfred said that she was also urging teachers to get fully vaccinated against the virus, noting that “presently, 37 per cent of our teachers are vaccinated”.