Couva West Secondary School

As school partially reopens today (Monday), parents of some Form Five pupils who will be resuming classes amid the COVID-19 pandemic are worried about the health and safety of their children.

The parents said their concerns heightened after tight-scheduled timetables were released late on Friday for the From Five’s at the Couva West Secondary School.

The parents are calling on the Minister of Education (MOE), Dr Nyan Gadsby-Dolly to investigate and ensure that the guidelines released by the ministry are kept.

Speaking with the Guardian Media one parent, who did not wish to be identified, accused the Couva West Secondary principal of doing their own thing.

“Contrary to the Ministry of Educations guideline to only have classes for laps and practicals and only where absolutely necessary. The Couva West Secondary School principal has allegedly decided to mandate all the Form 5s, of which they have many different Form 5s, to have classes all day for every subject for four days per week,” the disgruntled parent said.

“This is totally against the ministry’s guidelines and they only informed the children and parents of this contrary move on Friday evening after the ministry closed so that parents could not call the ministry and the classes start from Monday,” the parent added.

The parent said he fears that this move is “certainly going to cause cases of symptomatic COVID among the vulnerable students and parents and grandparents…”

“Please help in this matter of letting this injustice or at best misguided and dangerous action by this administration at this very troubled school. We, the concerned parents are calling for an immediate intervention and investigation by the Education Minister and the School supervisors.”

When contacted Minister Gadsby-Dolly urged parents to be “to be very careful about surmising that a Principal is “going against” the MOE’s guidelines.”

“Schools are distinguished by the numbers of students, the size of the plant, the success of the students in the online environment, the school’s environment, parents’ involvement, school location, school culture etc. All schools are not the same. It is for this reason that the guidelines allow for schools to create an individual school plan which allows schools a measure of individuality in the planning process,” the Minister explained.

“For some schools, a serious issue may be allowing students to leave school early, as they may need to prevent students from loitering. For others, parents may generally arrange pick-up, which greatly reduces that problem. For some schools, the teachers and students may also have adapted very well online, and they may have been able to progress significantly with SBAs which are required for most subjects. Others may not have had this general success and may need to ensure at this time that these students complete their requirements to give them the best chance of success. Therefore, each situation is different and requires unique handling,” Gadsby-Dolly added.

“Therefore it would be premature to assume that this school is “going against” the Guidelines,” the minister said.

The Minister made it clear, however, that School Principals are required to submit individual school plans to Supervisors and added that a report on this is scheduled to come to her this week “so that schools whose operations require a closer look can be identified and intervention made if and when necessary.”