ORANJESTAD- Due to the current Covid-19 situation on St. Eustatius, the Government and the educational partners have decided to keep primary and secondary schools closed next week and introduce distant learning.
New Challenges Foundation has also decided not to reopen until January 17th.This decision is the result of an assessment that was made of the current state of affairs at each institution.
In preparation for the reopening schools on St. Eustatius, Government Commissioners Alida Francis and Claudia Toet, met with the management of schools and educational partners on Wednesday, January 6th, 2022, to determine whether to reopen the schools on Monday, January10th, 2022, which is the official starting day following the holidays. Given the high number of active COVID-19 cases, it was decided to keep the schools closed for another week and resort to online teaching, as was the earlier in the pandemic. The Directorate of Social Domain will ensure that students who benefit from the school breakfast programme can do so as of Monday January 10th. The Expertise Center will work with schools and the pedagogical worker to ensure that vulnerable youngsters and youngsters with special needs are not left behind.
It was further agreed that all schools, day care centres and Out-of-School programmes will update their contingency plans and ensure strict hygiene measures are in place before physical classes will resume. “The feedback government has received is that more time is needed to prepare for the safe and responsible re-opening schools and other supporting institutions. In the meantime, schools will start with online education based on capacity and online options and tools they have at their disposal. Some schools are better equipped online compared to others. Parties have therefore committed to share their experiences to improve the overall efficiency of distance learning”.
A follow-up meeting with all educational stakeholders is scheduled for Thursday, January 13th, 2022, to determine the COVID-19 readiness of each school. The Public Health Department (GGD), Compulsory Education Office, RCN Education Unit and ECE will form part of these meetings. “Next week it will be decided if schools are ready to open and start physical classes on Monday, January 17th, 2022,” says Government Commissioner Alida Francis.