#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.