Bradon Roberts

Trinidad and Tobago Unified Teachers Association’s (TTUTA’s) Tobago Officer Bradon Roberts says the Tobago-arm of the association can not grade the island’s first virtual school term as there are “too many unknowns.”

The pandemic forced face-to-face schooling to close nationwide on March 13. Online-only learning began in September.

Roberts said the grade was based on poor internet connectivity islandwide, a large number of students without online devices, teachers’ challenges in preparing lessons, and some student’s inability to grasp the lessons via remote learning.

Speaking with Guardian Media on Tuesday, Roberts said the most important criteria for grading depended on whether the children were able to learn by remote teaching.

“As the saying goes, teaching has not been done if learning does not take place. Thus, because of the difficulty in determining the extent to which students learned, we cannot grade the term.”

He said all the teachers and students surmounted the challenges and, “eventually most did well.”

“One of the successes, however, is that in treating to the different kinds of intelligence, there would have been persons who were technology savvy and some students and teachers…excelled using the technology.”

However, he said some “did not do well at all.”

He said he is also “happy” stakeholders saw some of the teachers’ daily challenges as students were also unruly during online classes.

“We have been complaining about some children’s behaviour, and various stakeholders would have been able to see what the school system is like. What we have to face. How some students behave. Thankfully, those situations were addressed early,” he said.

“Whew, thankfully, the term is coming to an end. We will be able to take a breather. We can implement the lessons we learned from this term so we will be better able to address the blended learning system in the next term.”

Guardian Media reached out to the Tobago House of Assembly’s Education Secretary Kelvin Charles for comment on the island’s first virtual school term. He promised the division’s response but indicated he would have been in meetings on Tuesday.

Last week, Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley announced that virtual schools would reopen on January 4. He also said students in standard 5 and forms 4-6 would begin in-person classes from January 8.