Flashback: Last year Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh gave advice to St Joseph Government Primary School SEA students ahead of the exam.

A total of 19,363 Standard Five students were supposed to have written the Secondary Entrance Assessment (SEA) exam Thursday.

Instead, the group – which has the honour of being the largest cohort of students to have sat the exam in the past ten years – continue to remain at home and follow online classes as part of their ongoing exam preparation.

Contacted yesterday, senior officials at the Ministry of Education declined to say if another date had been set for the administration of the exam.

One official stressed, “Everything would depend on the advice we get from the Ministry of Health.”

“So far, we have been told that there would be a resumption of normal activities on April 20 in the first instance, and we are working with that for the time being.”

The SEA exam which focuses on creative writing, critical thinking and problem-solving skills – is used to determine the placement of students in secondary schools.

The new academic term is supposed to begin in September.

Interviewed yesterday, the mother of an 11-year-old girl who attends a primary school in Woodbrook said the delay in the exam was a welcomed move.

Requesting their names not be used, she said, “My daughter is very very happy for the additional time. She has a very different spin on things…while the rest of us are a little worried about how everything would unfold, she is very happy to have more time to be prepared and I think for her, she was experiencing some challenges in school, so that time being home where she can follow on television and do practice papers, she’s very comfortable.”

The relieved mother said the removal of having to get up daily at 4.30 am and leave her home in Central Trinidad to get to school on time, had also lent itself to her daughter being more comfortable with the delay in the exam.

“Her mental space is in a much better place now,” the mother said.

The father of an 11-year-old twin boy and girl, also scheduled to have written the exam today – said he could not wait until it was over as his wife was the one manifesting the symptoms of stress and pressure.

Indicating that his children and their classmates continued to benefit from online classes, he said he was happy their teachers had ensured they were occupied while at home.

The Ministry of Education said it is continuing to play its part to ensure the nation’s children have access to education, especially during this fight to combat COVID-19.

In a release, Education Minister Anthony Garcia encouraged stakeholders to utilise online resources for teaching and learning and to also conduct personal business.

He said, “With the closure of educational institutions and upcoming examinations, the Ministry’s Information and Communication Technology Division (ICTD) has been working assiduously to enhance existing platforms for Ministry staff, teachers, parents and students.”

Regarding the SEA, he said they had partnered with the Ministry of Communication and TTT to provide SEA Mathematics and English classes daily.

The pre-recorded segments are broadcast on TTT daily, and it is also streamed live on Facebook and once aired, they are available on both Facebook and YouTube

He commended corporate T&T for supporting them as he said Digicel had made the SEA Time classes available on their Video on Demand platform.

For CSEC and CAPE students, he said an online portal had been set up to allow for the remote live-streaming of classes by teachers as well as student access to revision and subject material.