Education Minister Anthony Garcia, centre and San Fernando West Secondary School principal Ronald Motto, right, listen to the minister’s adviser Cheryl Ann Wilkerson, as they view a classroom which will be used by students in the upcoming CSEC and CAPE exams.

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More invigilators and safety officers will be hired over the next month by the Ministry of Education in anticipation of the upcoming Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) examination and the Caribbean Advanced Proficiency (CAPE) exams.

The CSEC exams will begin on July 13 and because of COVID-19 protocols, students will be placed in many classrooms throughout the school.

During a tour of the San Fernando West Secondary School on Wednesday, Minister Anthony Garcia assured that finances will be provided to hire additional invigilators. However, he could not say how many more will be needed.

“Yes, we will definitely need more invigilators. Towards this end, we have advertised publicly for people supervising the exams to apply and we are hoping to get positive responses as soon as possible.

He explained that a survey was being done in every school to determine how many classes will be utilized and once that is done, the final number will be calculated.

Garcia also said proper signage will be plastered in all schools to educate students about social distancing once the new term reopens in September.

“The school system is now different and we must plan as problems arise. We recognise that students’ natural instinct will be for them to gather and embrace each other. The primary school students will want to hug, play and share meals. We are working with our principals to ensure that as far as possible, our children are safe. While we are not restricting activities, we will make sure that whatever is done is safe. We cannot discount that its children we dealing with so we will ensure that we teach them the proper things,” Garcia said.

He expressed satisfaction with the safety protocols put in place by the school principal Ronald Mootoo.

Mootoo told the media that ten handwashing sinks will be installed in the school, along with sanitization stations in the car park. He added that masks will be mandatory for everyone although students will be allowed to take them off during the exams.

The school was in need of a paint job while the prefabricated building had a rusted roof. Asked to give an update on the $800 million allocated for the completion of 24 priority schools, Garcia declined to comment. He said, “As I normally do on occasions like these, I stick to the reasons for this media conference. In terms of the rebuilding of schools I will deal with that on another occasion,” Garcia said.

Told that completion of these schools was in keeping with school readiness for September, Garcia said, “We have the EFPPD (Education Facilities Planning and Procurement Division) here and they will do an assessment on the physical aspects of the building. I will deal with that on another day.”

Meanwhile, permanent secretary at the Ministry Kurt Meyer said principals now had the option of reporting school issues online.

“A principal with any issue can file a report online and we will immediately assign an officer to deal with it. If he wants to deal with the issue himself he can go in and make an amendment to it,” Meyer said.

Meanwhile, chief education officer Lisa Henry-David said the issues raised by foreign language students have already been decided on by the Caribbean Examinations Council.

“A decision taken by CXC was that students doing French and Spanish will have to do Paper Two as well and that is how it is. That is the decision. CXC is having a webinar today and Questions will be fielded and these questions will be addressed but as it stands now, the decision it’s that they will have top do Paper 2,” Henry-David said.

Garcia said he will be continuing to tour schools across the country to ensure there is readiness for the CSEC and CAPE exams within the coming weeks. ­