Further to the Department of Educational Services (DES) previous press release confirming the start date for all Government schools, the DES also announces schools' readiness for the 2021/2022 academic year.
Newly appointed DES Director Mark Ray explained, "Our team has been hard at work over the past few weeks instituting measures to facilitate a seamless start to the new school year. In addition, schools were assessed following the passage of Tropical Storm Grace, and our facilities team has been working with various partner agencies to ensure that schools are safe and clean for our students to return to an environment that is conducive for learning."
As part of its preparedness measures, the DES updated its Continuity of Operations Plan and has re-circulated it to schools.
"Considering the planned reopening of our borders and the fact that we are experiencing quite an active hurricane season, we have updated our continuity plan to ensure that we are ready for any eventuality. I am confident that we will be able to forge ahead with remote teaching and learning as needed," Mr. Ray continued.
In July, 4,272 laptops were distributed to government schools for student use, and 120 IPads were procured for the Lighthouse School as part of the Ministry of Education's (MoE) 1:1 Laptop Initiative.
Another 762 laptops will be distributed to secondary school students during the ongoing school orientation. Schools will also receive the 470 laptops that have been ordered for reception students once they [laptops] arrive on the island within the next few weeks.
The Ministry of Education has further updated the network infrastructure and increased the bandwidth in all 15 government schools to support the additional usage.
Minister of Education, Hon. Juliana O'Connor-Connolly commented on the programme's progress.
"I am pleased that we have been able to provide sufficient devices for every child enrolled in our government primary and high schools.
I thank the 3,896 parents who have already collected their child's assigned laptop and urge other parents to collect the laptop from their children's respective schools before the start of the new term to ensure that no child is left behind."
Minister O'Connor Connolly also urged students to take care of the device they have been entrusted with and encouraged parents to submit a signed copy of the acceptable use policy to their child's school before the start of the new school year.
Other preparedness measures undertaken by the DES include the procurement of masks for all students and educators and the placement of additional safety signage at strategic locations throughout each school as necessary.
Mr. Ray implored parents to ensure that their children are ready for a positive start to the new term. "It is important that our students are ready for an exciting start to their learning journey this year. We want them to come with their books and other learning tools, be dressed for academic success in the appropriate school uniforms and remind them to observe hygiene protocols, such as regular hand washing and sanitisation."
He also advised parents that students will still be required to wear masks while travelling on school buses and further encouraged parents to keep their children at home if they suffer from a fever or flu-like symptoms.