PORT OF SPAIN – The Trinidad and Tobago government on Monday announced that all schools on the island will re-open on April 19 after they had been closed for nearly two years due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Education Minister Dr Nyan Gadsby-Dolly told a news conference all schools including the universities will re-open on that date, the beginning of the third term of the academic year 2021-22 and that the government had taken the decision to re-open schools after a careful and measured approach.
“We believe that there are only six countries which have kept schools fully closed. Trinidad and Tobago has used a careful and measured approach to physical school re-opening and based on the advice of the officials of the Ministry of Health, the government of Trinidad and Tobago has taken the decision to fully re-open all schools…from April 19.
She also announced that the authorities would be moving to deal with the violence in schools and that the Ministry of Education is engaged with other ministries on the issue. She said a revised draft policy on school violence is now being discussed by various stakeholders.
“What obtained before is that we had a document that dealt with the Ministry of Education intervention through students support. What we require is intervention and assistance from outside of the Ministry of Education.”
She said that the authorities now require the assistance of various programmes and how they can be amended to provide support to student’s who need that extra support and cannot find it in the school environment and demonstrate by their behaviour that they cannot find that support within the schools.
“We also need the intervention of social development and family services in a formal way to deal where the remits of our school social workers end, we need social work to intervene in a special way and we need a formal mechanism for that”.
She told reporters that community involvement is necessary in eliminating violence in schools, noting school violence originates does not originate at the schools and that “many times…it comes from communities, the children need extra help
“We are formally asking for that assistance with family counselling and also socio-economic support for families where that is required. That is outside of the remit of the Ministry of Education and we need that input formally.
“With respect to the community police …we do have relationships with them…but we need to formalise this so that we understand exactly where they can intervene to assist in our schools and students. The emphasis is not penalising students but giving them the support that is required and some of them will need support outside of the school system,” the Education Minister added. (CMC)