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Education Minister Dr Nyan Gadsby-Dolly.

After a three-week break over the Christmas season, thousands of students returned to virtual classrooms yesterday for the start of the second virtual term of the 2021 academic year.

Even though teacher-learning engagement has not officially begun for some students, the Trinidad and Tobago Unified Teachers Association’s (TTUTA’s) vice-president, Marlon Seales, believes it was a “smooth start”.

In a telephone interview with Guardian Media, he explained, “Some principals put aside two or three days for planning purposes so we expect that schools may actually start a little later in the week”.

Although teachers at some schools were wrapped up in meetings for most of the day, the National Primary School Principals Association (NPSPA) said that there were others trying to work out additional details.

“Some schools are in the process of giving out devices, not many, so these are the little things that are going to be worked out at this point in time, but my understanding is that for a number of schools classes would have resumed for some students online and the others will start tomorrow and perhaps later on,” Lance Mottley said.

In a video message sent to the media yesterday afternoon, Education Minister, Dr Nyan Gadsby-Dolly, assured the procurement of these laptops has begun. She further announced, “the Learning Evaluations Committee has put out a call for suppliers of E-books and we will be taking a closer look at what digital resources can be provided for the use of our school population for the next school year.”

The minister said in-person learning could resume for students of Standard 5 as well as Forms 4 to 6 on February 8. She said a draft policy guideline is expected to be finalised this week. However, the Minister emphasised that this is based on if the number of COVID-19 cases remains low.

Even before the physical resumption of classes, Dr Gadsby-Dolly noted that CXC January exams should begin on January 18, “and so all arrangements are being made for those to take place”.

Currently, 90 schools are being repaired at a cost of $74 million, according to Dr Gadsby-Dolly.

Both TTUTA and the NPSPA said they were looking forward to the phased reopening of schools and are already engaging in consultation with the ministry on this issue.