Face-to-Face Classes to Resume in Trinidad Between February and April 2022

PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad – Physical classes will resume for all secondary and tertiary students as well as Standard Five pupils from February, while Early Childhood Care and Education and Standards One to Four students will return to the classroom in April for term three, the Ministry of Education said on Wednesday.

triNSchool children play outside in Trinidad. (Photo via the Archdiocese of Port of Spain)It said the decision followed consultations with the Trinidad and Tobago Unified Teachers Association (TTUTA) and wider stakeholders.

“The major concerns which surfaced during stakeholder consultations centered around ensuring the safety of our children while maintaining the quality of their education,” said a memo sent to school principals.

“The Ministry of Education, in considering the operations of schools in Term II, takes into account the recommendations of the stakeholders, as well as guidance offered by international bodies.

“While there are many different views on school reopening throughout Trinidad and Tobago, the government has a mandate to preserve both the health and education of our future leaders, in that expressed order of priority,” it added.

Against that background, the Ministry said, post-secondary and tertiary students will therefore be allowed to attend physical classes for teaching and practicals from January 2022.

Students of Forms 4-6 or equivalent will attend school physically for teaching classes, practicals and school-based assessments from January 3, 2022; and students of Forms 1-3 or equivalent will engage in remote learning in January 2022, allowing schools to plan for their return to physical attendance in February 2022, on a rotational basis.

Primary schools will continue to operate remotely in Term II, except for Standard 5 students, who will attend school physically from February 2022.

“Though we are forging ahead towards normalcy, we must be mindful that we are still operating in a pandemic, and all decisions must be contextualized by this reality,” the Ministry said. “These proposed plans are predicated on the health circumstances of Trinidad and Tobago, and further details of physical attendance will be released after consultation with stakeholders.”

It said it has implemented measures in schools to maintain as safe an environment as possible, including the provision of sinks for handwashing throughout school compounds, free-standing and handheld temperature scanners, cleaning and sanitization materials, and the implementation of entry protocols.

The number of positive COVID-19 cases among staff and students at schools throughout the twin-island republic between October 4 and December 10 when there was physical attendance, was 162.

The Ministry said that “agrees with global reports that physical school has not been proven to cause significant rises in the level of COVID-19 infections within countries”.