While Minister of Education, Culture, Youth and Sport (ECYS) Rodolphe Samuel’s reported statement on a recent meeting with school boards (see related story) did not directly answer the question when most youngsters might be returning to the physical classroom, he did announce a decision regarding “vulnerable” students and exam candidates by the end of next week. Exactly what that means is not clear, but one may assume special arrangements are to be made for these groups.
The minister also said that “the current spread of the virus is not what we would like it to be at this moment,” referring to local active coronavirus cases. This apparently implies that the time is not yet considered opportune to fully reopen schools.
Although different people have varying opinions about the latter, ultimately education officials based on the advice of health authorities must make that call and carry the responsibility that comes with it. Small children are much less at risk of suffering from COVID-19 symptoms, but once infected can potentially pass it on to others, including adults.
Samuel promised to provide students still lacking an electronic device to facilitate distance learning at both public and subsidised schools that contact the ministry with such by the end of this week. This too indicates that virtual education will remain the new norm for now.
While it is good to know efforts are ongoing to ensure “no child is left behind” under these exceptional circumstances, the reality remains that – especially among the youngest pupils – some probably will be, until they are back in class with their peers and a teacher in front of them. Hopefully, that will become possible again in an acceptably safe way sooner rather than later.