#Providenciales, Turks and Caicos Islands – August 12, 2020 — Staggered, blended, virtual, online, face-to-face, rotation and now hybrid have entered the vernacular as descriptions of how children can learn in this ‘new normal’ forced upon the planet due to the rampant spread of COVID-19.
The Turks and Caicos Islands is considering a blended or hybrid approach to formal education in the public sector, which was today explained by Edgar Howell, the Director of Education.
“What is being proposed in the draft guidelines that have been prepared is that a group of children will come in for a number of days and the other children will continue on line during those days and then another set will come in while that first group will continue online,” explained Edgar Howell, TCI Director of Education today during a Media Q&A hosted by the ministry.
This is not a shift system, therefore teachers will not have to repeat lessons to new groups of students each day and the methodology is apparently a favoured approach.
“The school administrators as well as teachers for a particular classroom would be the ones to assist us in that area. You would know that are a certain amount of students that can fit into a classroom at that time. The teachers would know which students are able to go online and be a part of the class as well as those who would be able to be in the classroom setting, so this is avenue, the way we’re looking at it when it comes to blending the classrooms,” said Karen Malcolm, the Minister of Education.
The Ministry of Health has recommended that desks be spaced six feet a part to uphold global standards for physical distancing in the midst of the pandemic.
Mr. Howell explained that an audit of school resources has informed the recommendation in the draft ‘Guidelines and Protocols for Returning to Schools’ about the hybrid or blended approach to schooling.
“The audit helped schools to begin to look at how many students they can accommodate in a classroom, how they will then look at time-tabling and that was done sometime in early July. We have the feedback from them, so they have an idea of how many students they can accommodate at a time within the school setting and then how many students will have to be online and how they rotate those students in,” said Mr. Howell.
The audits revealed that at a maximum, only 12 students can fit into a properly physically-distanced-classrooms in Turks and Caicos schools.
Despite the research, the possibility exists that there will be no return to face-to-face learning in time for the start of the 2020-2021school year.
“Principals have worked through and continue to work through how that will happen, if we were to return children, physically to the classroom…” said Mr. Howell.
At least one private school, Mills Institute has decided to continue online teaching only for its primary school from nursery to grade six.
In a letter to parents dated August 12, Mills Institute located in Providenciales, has also informed that its daycare will remain closed.
The Media Q&A was held at the Office of the Premier in Providenciales with Sharlene Robinson, TCI Premier and Wesley Clerveaux, Permanent Secretary of Education also in attendance.