Thousands of nursery, primary and secondary school children returned to the classroom on Tuesday for the start of the Hilary term. Students of Ellerslie Secondary School were not among them as incomplete repairs forced the continued closure of that institution for the remainder of this week.
Pupils and teachers of the Lawrence T Gay Memorial School which has been plagued with environmental issues were however back in the classroom, starting the new term the way they ended last term, with some classes relocated to Grace Hill Moravian Church, The Church of Christ the King, at Rock Dundo, St Michael and Sharon Moravian Church, St Thomas. The relocation of classes took place as a result of a reported offensive odour.
Principal of the Spooner’s Hill, St Michael school, Brent Blackett, told members of the media just after 9 a.m. that the buses to transport the students and teachers to the various churches arrived in a timely manner and made multiple trips to take students to their classes.
“Later on during the day I will go around to each site to make sure that everybody is settled and everything is running according to plan. But we had a good start to school today.
“All the teachers are at school, there were no reports of anybody ill or anything. Everybody came in, in high spirits. If there is anything negative, the teachers in charge will call me or contact me to report whatever is happening,” Blackett said.
Minister of Education Kay McConney announced during a video address on Monday evening that the Ellerslie principal would inform students and their guardians about accessing the Google Classroom for information.
Last term, President of the Barbados Union of Teachers (BUT), Rudy Lovell, raised concerns about the issues affecting Ellerslie, including the cracked ceilings and leaking roofs.
Meanwhile, principals of other schools reported a smooth start to the new school term.
Principal at Combermere, Julia Beckles said the school had a productive and organised start with two morning assemblies to accommodate the more than 1100 students.
“We have started well and we have impressed upon the students that we are in a new season now. We have left the season of Christmas behind. We are bringing over with us though the peace, the joy and the love, but we are getting ready for work and of course we are getting ready for BSSAC [Barbados Secondary Schools Atheltic Championship],” she said.
Beckles added that while the school’s management acknowledged that it was now optional for masks to be worn by students, teachers and ancillary staff, those who continued to wear them would be respected.
“Of course we have impressed upon them this morning the importance of looking out for their personal safety and still ensuring that they are mindful that COVID-19 has not fully gone and to look out for their health and safety because that is each person’s responsibility, and certainly respect their peers and members of staff who have opted to wear masks,” Beckles said.
In the north, Principal of Frederick Smith Secondary Stephen Jackman reported that the start of school term was surprisingly quiet with students appearing excited to be back. He said he met with several parents to discuss health issues affecting their charges.
The principal also indicated that the majority on the campus has opted not to wear masks.
“We would encourage them to take personal responsibility, to walk with their own sanitiser. We still have a couple of sanitising stations available for them, but we would encourage them for the most part, to take responsibility and to try as far as possible, not to be up in one another’s face,” Jackman said.