Saturday 28 March, 2020

Concerned about mass meeting on COVID-19, teachers get their wish

The Ministry of Education has changed its strategy to update teaching staff and school personnel on the way forward since Barbados has recorded its first two imported cases of the novel coronavirus.

Initially, the Ministry was calling for all school personnel, parents and guardians with children within the nursery, primary and secondary school systems to convene at the Garfield Sobers Gymnasium (March 18) - but this request was met with some pushback.

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In a voicenote today, March 17, a member of the teaching fraternity said that she expressed her concerns to the Minister of Education. She indicated that the Ministry should find an alternative that did not require persons coming into contact with each other physically.

Instead, she said that she called for an online meeting and she indicated that the Minister of Education had said she would "work on the suggestion of a webinar or some other way of meeting that does not expose some 3000-plus persons to each other in the proposed setting."

The initial notice to teachers came a few hours before the Minister of Health and Wellness, Lt Col Jeffrey Bostic reported that Barbados had two confirmed cases of COVID-19 comprising a visitor and a local, both with a travel history to the US.

Subsequently, the Ministry said in a release that it will be closing schools early tomorrow (March 18) to host a virtual meeting.

'All public educational institutions - nursery, primary, secondary, special and tertiary - will close at noon tomorrow, Wednesday, March 18, to facilitate an online consultation on COVID-19, led by Minister of Education, Technological and Vocational Training, Santia Bradshaw.'

Parents, guardians and even students, as well as educators and ancillary staff, can all access the virtual meeting because it will be streamed live on YouTube at 2 pm.

Persons are required to go to YouTube.com/mrdbarbados, and click on the Live Link.  Presentations will be made by representatives from the Ministry of Health and Wellness, the Pan American Health Organization and the Ministry of Education. 

Principals/directors, teachers/instructors, non-teaching and clerical staff and school meals workers are invited to log on. Private schools are also invited to take part in this exercise. 

An email address has also been created - covid19queries@mes.gov.bb - so that school personnel can submit their questions, which will be addressed during the consultation. 

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