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Parents of Secondary Entrance Assessment (SEA) students wait for them outside the Scarborough Methodist School during last week’s exam.

President of the Goodwood High School Parent Teachers Association (PTA), Esmeralda Corbin-Clarke, is advising parents to begin easing children into the routine of going back to school, albeit online.

Earlier this week, the Ministry of Education announced that the first term of the new academic school year will begin in September and end in December as originally planned but will be conducted online due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Schools were shut down in March 2020 to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus. Since then, students had online classes until the last academic year ended in July, with the only exceptions being made for the students who had to go out to schools to sit the Secondary Assessment Entrance and Caribbean Examination Council exams.

But with online learning now forecast in future with no immediate end to the COVID pandemic, Corbin-Clarke, who is a police officer attached to the Child Protection Unit, is suggesting creating a school-based timetable and parents/guardians creating a classroom-like atmosphere in the corner of the house to “gradually” get children into the frame of mind to attend school again.

“Get the children to bed a little earlier so that they can get up by 8 am,” the mother of two teenage children said.

Speaking in her capacity as the PTA president, Corbin-Clarke recommended having had a long lay-off from the discipline needed for physical schooling, that the times children go to bed and wake up now be adjusted gradually.

“Many children are accustomed to going to bed, either late at night or the wee hours of the morning. You can’t just order them to start adjusting the times drastically, you have to ease them into it,” she said.

She said a classroom type setting should also be created within the home environment immediately.

“This area should be free from distractions,” she stressed.

She said parents must also take the time to supervise all school activities.

“I know we are all busy but our children are our responsibility and just as the teachers supervised the children at school, we must supervise our children’s schoolwork, at home.”

She is also asking parents to be patient with the process.

“Children will not change their habits overnight and may not readily do what is required. They may begin to follow the rules but rebel after as it’s a new way of doing things. Parents just need to be patient,” the PTA president said.