Tuesday 1 December, 2020

Garcia: 'Virtually impossible' for schools to reopen before Sept

Education Minister Anthony Garcia says it seems 'virtually impossible' for schools to reopen before September, in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Garcia made the comment, as he provided an update on the reopening of schools at a virtual media conference on Tuesday.

Schools were originally scheduled to reopen on April 20. The Prime Minister, Dr Keith Rowley, said last week Monday that this would no longer be the case, and said a date for reopening would have to be determined. 

However, Garcia said he has held discussions with a number of stakeholders on the matter and concluded it is unlikely that schools across the Trinidad and Tobago will reopen before September.

"Arising out of these discussions, it seems that it is almost impossible for schools to reopen before September. And I'm saying its seems to be virtually impossible," he said.

However, the Education Minister said such a decision could only be taken after consultations with the Ministry of Health.

Cabinet, he said would then make a decision on the reopening of schools.

"We will be taking a note to Cabinet and as you know Cabinet will be meeting on Thursday and hopefully Cabinet will come to a decision," Garcia stated.

He said this would have an effect on both regional and local examinations.

As such, Garcia said whenever schools are reopened, it would take one month before exams are held.

"The local exam is the SEA. As you would know, the SEA was scheduled to be written by our students, all 19,000 of them on April 2. That did not happen. Depending on whenever school reopens, it will need according to CXC at least one month for the preparation so that our students will be able to write the exam in relative comfort.

This will involve the training of our supervisors. The supervisors and invigilators are very important if we want to ensure that there is a trouble free exam. So whenever school reopens, then it will take at least one month before the students can write the exam and then for the exams to be corrected that will take another month and then for the placement, as you know the SEA is a placement exam, that will take another month," he said.

Garcia said the third term will most likely be abolished and the new academic year will start in January 2021.

However, the Education Minister stressed that a final decision will be made by the Cabinet on Thursday.

"One of the things that we are looking at is that the third term will take place really from September 1 and therefore all the activities that take place during that third term would now take place from September to December. It means now that new academic year will really start from January 2021. The implication of that would be that there is the possibility of compressing into two terms," he said.

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