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TCI: Opposition Deputy Leader suggests virtual learning platforms ahead of COVID-19 school closures

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#TurksandCaicosIslands – March 19,2020 — Come this Friday, 20th March 2020, all schools are to close until Monday, 20th April 2020. With the UK Government predicting that the COVID-19 Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak may not peak until 14 weeks from now (i.e. around the 22nd June) it is optimistic to believe that schools will remain closed for just one month.

Schools are being asked to finalize plans to continue the delivery of the curricula using the various means available to them, and to share their business continuity plans to the Ministry of Education by today, Wednesday, 18th March 2020. We are aware that this is easier said than done, and we sympathize with you. Schools, particularly the public schools, do not have the experience, training, tools, or IT systems and support, to be able to deliver courseware over the internet to the more than 7,000 students (based on the Turks & Caicos Islands Government Vital Statistics Report 2018) who are between the ages of 5-19, in such a short time. To successfully move classes online, schools will need at a minimum the following:

1.         A Virtual learning platform,

2.         Teachers trained to deliver classes via the Virtual learning platform,

3.         Students trained on the use of the Virtual learning platform, and

4.         Each student to have access to either a PC, tablet, or smart phone with a reliable internet connection so they can access the Virtual learning platform. 

Getting all these items in place to have virtual classes for the next 30 days is practically impossible. Even trying to do so over the next 3 months is a huge task. However, for those schools that are interested in trying, I highly recommend “Webex for School Teachers”. It’s a great platform and it’s free.

To ensure that this distance learning exercise go as smoothly as possible, we encourage all schools to ensure that before they close on Friday, they have contact information, particularly email addresses, for all students. For students who don’t currently have an email account, I highly recommend Gmail. It’s free.  

In absence of structured classes, you students will be required to exhibit a level of self-discipline and self-management that many adults don’t possess. This is asking a lot from you, but it is necessary during this time. This period may feel like summer started early, but you must be discipline during this time and dedicate at least 5 – 6 hours per day to studying, especially those students who are part of the class of 2020. If your teachers are unable to give you a full day’s worth of class material, then I encourage you to use the spare time reading your textbooks, and for those math and science students, practice, practice, practice, those questions.    

To the class of 2020, the cancelation of classes could not have happened at a worse time for you. You’re getting ready for final exams, in a little more than 3 months you’re graduating, and in September, you’re starting a new chapter of your life. I know you feel that all of this is unfair, and it is. However, all is not lost. Remember, that God will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear, and when you are tempted, he will provide a way out so that you can endure it.                   

The next month, and maybe even the next three months, you will be tempted by everything but your schoolwork, but you must ignore the temptations. If your school doesn’t have access to a Virtual learning platform, then utilize existing social media and communications platforms – like Facebook and Whatsapp – to study together in groups. Make sure that everyone in your class participates. With everyone reaching for the same goal, it will encourage each person to give their all. Having study groups will make it easier for persons to work through problems effectively, and most importantly, it will encourage the sharing of knowledge. Make sure that no one is left behind.   

“Problems can become opportunities when the right people come together”, and Class of 2020, God has chosen you for this challenge. I know that you will make it through it, and you will make the entire country proud. We stand by you, and we will be here for you.

I pray that God continue to bless and strengthen you to overcome the challenges ahead.      

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RTCIPF Marine Branch and USCG Working Together in Keeping Our Borders Secure

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#TurksandCaicos, May 20, 2022 – During the afternoon of Wednesday 19th May 2022, a call was made to the RTCIPF Marine Operations Centre via VHF radio that a suspicious vessel was sighted around 35 miles south east of Providenciales. The operator immediately updated colleagues within the Royal Turks and Caicos Marine Branch who made their way to the location and with the support of a US Coast Guard (USCG) plane, safely intercepted an overloaded vessel carrying irregular migrants.

Following delicate coordination and the stabilization of the boat which was unsafe, severely overcrowded and none of the occupants was wearing life vests, the RTCIPF marine unit was joined by a second RTCIPF Marine crew and a third vessel crewed with TCI Regiment and Tactical Unit officers to support the delicate operation.

The vessel was carefully offloaded at sea to ensure the safety of the occupants after which, the boat was towed to South Dock where it arrived around 10:30pm with a total of 110 persons (84 males and 24 females and 2 juveniles) who were then taken into custody by the Immigration Department.

Superintendent Martyn Ball said, “Once again working with partners we have safely intercepted another vessel that was overcrowded, unsafe, risking the lives of those on board. This demonstrates the professionalism and dedication of the RTCIPF Marine Unit, working together with colleagues in the Marine Operations Centre, USCG, TCI Regiment, TCI Immigration and the RTCIPF Tactical Unit to save lives and keep our borders here in the Turks and Caicos safe.  In the last couple of months around 768 individuals on 8 dangerous vessels have been intercepted which is testament to the professionalism of our teams here in the TCI and I am very grateful to the passing vessel who raised the alarm.  I would appeal to anyone if you have any information relating to such activity that you call Crimes Stoppers free and anonymously on 1-800-8477 (TIPS) not only will you be saving lives but also supporting our national security here in the Turks and Caicos Islands.”

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Education

Ten Selected for the TCREA Real Estate Mentorship Program

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#TurksandCaicos, May 20, 2022 – Since the official announcement of the Turks & Caicos Real Estate Association’s High School Mentorship Program, ten mentees have been selected for the inaugural group and will begin their journey on the road to embracing the fundamentals of the real estate field this month.

TCREA Ambassador and Director of the mentorship program, Mr. Trevor Musgrove, shared how pleased the committee was to have received thirty applications for the program, “We extended the opportunity to high schoolers and young college students aged 13-17.  Initially, the invitation for applications was shared only with Providenciales students because of the logistical challenge to accommodate in-person sessions with sister island students, as all our committee members are based in Providenciales.

Luckily, once the Ministry of Education came on board and endorsed the program, Honourable Rachel Taylor immediately encouraged us to extend the mentorship opportunity to all islands, pledging her Ministry’s commitment to handling the necessary authorizations and cost to ensure successful applicants outside of Provo would be able travel here as needed,” said Musgrove.

 The successful applicants and their respective schools are as follows:

·     Clement Howell High – Dashawn Brooks, Alyssa Callum

·      Raymond Gardiner High – Olique Stubbs, Lewis Walkin, Jr.

·      Precious Treasures – Aniyah Bovie

·      Maranatha Academy – Shamya Missick

·      British West Indies Collegiate – Pavla Lalakova, Andino Parker

·      Louise Garland Thomas High – Abnise Noel, Antoine Gedeon

Musgrove said they were pleased to have had applicants from North Caicos and were hopeful to have students from Grand Turk and South Caicos among the group, however no applications were received from those islands.

On Tuesday, May 10th the final group came together for a virtual meet-up and briefing, where they were formally introduced to the program’s mentors and were given an overview of what to expect in the coming months.

The teens will receive a monthly educational module over the next six months and will be provided 1-2 weeks to internalize the information. They will then enjoy a monthly in-person session with their mentors where they will put their real estate acumen to the test in interactive sessions, field trips, and more.

Program mentor Manfred Smith of Sotheby’s Turks & Caicos shared his elation for the program’s momentum thus far, “We are excited about providing this opportunity to introduce high school students to the real estate industry.  From the initial feedback, the students are also very keen to learn, which makes it rewarding for all as we contribute to the development of tomorrow’s professionals.”

Smith says the program also demonstrates TCREA’s continued commitment as good corporate citizens in the rapidly growing country.  The committee hopes that the mentees would grasp all that they can as they continue their educational pursuits.

The program’s Facebook page, @tcreamentors, is live and will document the group’s journey as they move through the program’s phases.  Along with Musgrove and Smith, the community can get to know more about the other committee members: Blair MacPherson of REMAX; Nina Siegenthaler of Sotheby’s; Vernica Delancy and Dedra Gray of Keller Williams; and Sean O’neill, of The Agency through the social media page as well.

At the end of the program, the students will sit a mock real estate license exam and will enjoy a retreat for a fun and memorable close-out. 

It is TCREA’s hope that this initiative will garner an interest and appreciation for the industry among high-schoolers and will act as springboard to the development of the next generation of local real estate professionals in these islands.

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News

DECR Launches Important Tropical Plant Areas & Species in TCI Project

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#TurksandCaicos, May 19, 2022 – The Department of Environment and Coastal Resources (DECR) along with visiting scientists from Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew (RBG Kew) will launch the DarwinPlus 114 Project Tropical Important Plant Areas and Important Plant Species in TCI. The project was originally to begin in May 2020, but with Covid-19-related travel restrictions, along with restructuring at DECR and RBG Kew, two years of deferments were necessary. The project has begun and will be officially launched this week in a workshop on Thursday 12 May 2022 beginning at 9:00 AM in the National Environmental Centre.

In reference to the project, DECR Director Lormeka Williams stated, “With the recent completion of the National Physical Development Plan, the signing of the Climate Change Charter, and the review of the National Parks Ordinance, we are poised and ready to utilise new information on land use and impacts to our Protected Areas and green spaces. We are newly energised to commit to the discovery and description of our most sensitive and significant plant diversity hotspots. We’re inspired by our colleagues in the British Virgin Islands having completed the pilot of this project. We are also ready and excited to find out what these plants are that evade identification and may prove to be something unknown to science.”

The project is focused on identifying Tropical Important Plant Areas (TIPAs) in Turks and Caicos Islands. TIPAs are a network of the key sites for wild plants and threatened habitats identified using scientifically robust data. They are not legal designations, but a means to identify the most important sites for wild plant diversity and to inform the protection and management of sites. Identifying TIPAs will help prevent the global loss of plant diversity, whilst safeguarding the role of plants as primary producers and providers of ecosystem infrastructure, products, and services.

TIPAs also provides a framework for Governments to implement target 5 of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) Global Strategy for Plant Conservation – to ensure the protection of at least 75% of the most important areas for plant diversity of each ecological region by 2020 with effective management in place for conserving plants and their genetic diversity. TIPAs also contribute to implementing the CBD’s Aichi Biodiversity Target 12 – by 2020 the extinction of known threatened species has been prevented and their conservation status, particularly of those most in decline, has been improved and sustained. Criteria for identification of Tropical Important Plant Areas were developed, and the first nationwide project was completed by RBG Kew and the Virgin Islands National Parks Trust in the British Virgin Islands in 2019. Assistant Director of Research and Development B Naqqi Manco participated in the April 2019 BVI TIPAs Workshop, and discussed the potential to replicate the project with long-established partners at RBG Kew in the Turks and Caicos Islands.

Following the TCI TIPAs Launch Workshop, the DECR and RBG Kew team will trial the criteria over several sites of high plant diversity in Providenciales, North Caicos, and Middle Caicos. Over the next three years, the teams will cover other islands as well. Of particular importance will be the Turks and Caicos Islands eight known endemic plant species – those found nowhere else on earth. A secondary component of the project focuses on investigating some unique populations of rare plants in TCI, which may constitute new varieties or even species. RBG Kew will use DNA analysis to explore the relationship of these species to their closest relatives. Importantly, the rare and endemic species will be targeted for IUCN Red Data Listing as well, to assess their wild population status and trends.

 

Release: DECR

Photo: This beautiful Encyclia orchid is one of the unique groups of plants that will be studied by the project.

 

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