Fewer than 3,000 students return to physical school

As hundreds of vaccinated students in Forms Four to Six returned to the physical classrooms yesterday—hundreds more logged in virtually but some were disappointed after teachers failed to upload classes synchronously and they were left without a daily lesson plan.

However, Education Minister Dr Nyan Gadsby-Dolly, who toured two secondary schools in Port-of-Spain to witness the reopenings first hand, said close to 3,000 students from 110 schools turned out yesterday.

But even as officials were focused on ensuring the reopening was smooth, two activists tied to The New Wave Movement were detained by police after they attempted to deliver a letter to the minister, demanding the return of all students to schools.

Umar Abdullah and Ian Moody were forcibly removed by police after security guards at the Ministry of Education’s St Vincent Street, Port-of-Spain headquarters, called for assistance after the men entered the building and insisted on special arrangements.

Abdullah last week made public his intention to deliver the letter and called on parents and students to gather at the ministry daily to highlight the measure they claimed was discriminatory.

At that time, he vowed the action would continue until both vaccinated and unvaccinated students were allowed to return to school physically.

Abdullah and Moody were detained around 9.30 am and released approximately two hours later with a warning to desist from engaging in such acts.

However, four other people who were part of the handful of people who accompanied Abdullah to the ministry were held up to late yesterday—after they were caught recording several school principals collecting laptops for their respective schools.

Meanwhile, the Prime Minister and Education Minister reassured students who returned to classes that things were in place for them.

Addressing students at Queen’s Royal College and St Joseph’s Convent, Port-of-Spain, prior to hosting a Cabinet meeting yesterday, Rowley interacted with the principals, teachers and students at both schools and offered words of encouragement to all.

Minister Gadsby-Dolly said they were still collecting data regarding the number of students out yesterday. She said many schools had not rostered all students of Forms Four to Six to be present at school on the same days.

However, she said based on the data received from 110 out of 127 secondary schools in Trinidad—there were 2,887 students of Forms Four to Six out yesterday.

The Minister added, “Though all students/parents have not yet responded to school nor ministry-administered surveys regarding vaccination status, the total number of students from these 110 schools indicating that they are fully vaccinated up to this time is 5,976.”

At Fatima College, Mucurapo, where a 90 per cent student turn-out was reported, students began filling a time capsule.

During the assembly, Principal Father Gregory Augustine urged the students to pray for self-discipline; grow with integrity of character and learn the value of love and caring for each other. He said the decision to bury the time capsule, which will be opened in 2045, was prompted by the occurrence of the COVID-19 pandemic.