With the school year ending, government recently announced that summer school programmes will be allowed to operate soon if they get the right approvals.

Cabinet also recently approved the reopening of daycare centres and preschools, as Education, Culture, Youth Affairs, Fisheries and Agriculture Minister Dr. Natalio “Sowande” Wheatley announced on June 26 in the House of Assembly.

“I’m very happy for this, as over the past few months I’ve been inundated with calls for their reopening,” he said.

The Ministry of Health and Social Development has provided guidelines for reopening childcare settings and passing necessary safety inspections, Dr. Wheatley said.

Any early childhood development centres “desirous of reopening must plan and implement a contingency plan of action and operation,” he added.

This includes screening to limit the possibility of infection; increasing cleaning schedules; and maintaining specific hygiene practices.

“I know that many of the centres are eager to reopen, so I’m encouraging them to put the necessary measures in place so that they could be ready for inspections, which will commence on [ July 1],” he said.

Next year

Looking to the fall, Dr. Wheatley confirmed that schools will offer a combination of online lessons and in-person instruction for some students.

Kindergarten through 12th grade and H. Lavity Stoutt Community College implemented changes to allow some students to return to campus during the most recent phase of reopening the territory.

“Schools were permitted to have children with special needs, technical students, marginalised students, students taking exams, and adult students attend classes on campus,” he said. “Schools were inspected and approved to serve these students for the balance of the trinity term. Therefore, schools have staggered schedules for those students coming to the campus, while the majority of our students continued online.”

He added that feedback about the system was positive, especially from older students preparing for standardised testing.

The minister noted that educators have adapted to teaching online.

“Public and private school teachers have been working together to formulate lessons, assessments and activities by grade levels and subjects,” he said. “As the semester is coming to a close in a few weeks, I would once again like to commend the principals and teachers for their hard work.”

He continued, “We wish to see the integration of technology in education in a very real way. Covid-19 has forced us to make this decision, but we will continue to engage this 21st Century approach to education as we move forward.”