The National Principals Association (NPA) has expressed surprise over Monday’s announcement by Education Minister Shawn Edward that face-to-face classes will continue for the time being.
NPA President Valerie St Helene-Henry told St Lucia Times the organisation expected temporary school closure given the current surge in COVID-19 cases as a fifth wave of the virus inundates this country.
“We were anticipating it was a given that we need to close schools for a while, and so we were taken by surprise,” St Helene-Henry stated, adding that she has been in contact with the Minister of Education.
“We as an executive plan to write formally to request an audience so we can get a clearer picture as to what is going on and the way forward. I know we are in a fluid situation and maybe by the end of this week the decision can change, but we think it is urgent right now based on the critical situations happening that schools should have been closed as of tomorrow,” the NPA official said Monday.
St Helene-Henry, who previously supported the decision to resume face-to-face classes, said the NPA was disappointed over the Ministry’s response.
She said the organisation was hoping schools would be closed for a brief period to reduce COVID-19 cases and monitor the situation, perhaps over two weeks.
“We are yet to obtain information from the Ministry of Education as to what moved them to this decision,” the NPA official told St Lucia Times.
She said within the school system, there’s data relating to student absenteeism due to COVID-19 positive cases or being unwell with flu-like symptoms and a daily increase in absent teachers because of infections by the virus or being on leave after contact tracing.
“The children cannot be at school and be instructed when the teachers are not there,” St Helene-Henry noted.
“On the ground we are the ones managing the schools, we are the ones running the schools, trying our best to ensure that instruction takes place regardless of the fact that we have teachers absent, so we would like to know what data drove that decision,” she said of the announcement that in-person classes would continue for the time being.