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Re-Opening schools in TCI in this COVID-19 era; Q&A with the MoEYCSLS

Questions & Answers with the TCI Ministry of Education, Youth, Culture, Social & Library Services

Magnetic Media: What will happen to students whose parents have to work; what has MOE, which is also responsible for youth and social welfare, set up to support such families?

TCI Ministry of Education: The Ministry through the Department of Social Services and the Department of Education are working closely together to provide support and guidance to parents wherever possible.

Magnetic Media: What is current registration; I am told some grades at the primary level are at capacity.  Many parents are no longer able to pay for private school education.  What provision is being made to accommodate families impacted by the economic fall-out caused by COVID-19?

TCI Ministry of Education: Registration for the 2020/21 school year for entry into Preschool 1 (Infant 1) and Form 1 of high school was conducted from 1st June to 30th June 2020.  The available spaces at both levels have been filled and the Ministry of Education is negotiating with private schools in the Private School Subsidy Programme to place students who did not get places in public schools.

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Magnetic Media: How many students are in need of laptops or devices to participate in virtual learning?  Is there a count; what is currently available and what needs to be obtained to ensure every learner is able to participate?

TCI Ministry of Education: Based on submissions made to the Department of Education, there are approximately 750 students indicated as needing a tablet or laptop.  The Ministry of Education purchased 500 tablets to be distributed to students based on a needs analysis.  An additional 250 tablets/laptops have been ordered.

Magnetic Media: Work had started on EMIS; an electronic education management system introduced to the public during the release of the newest Education Policy.  Where is that program currently?  It is my understanding this program will help to ensure, among other things quality learning?

TCI Ministry of Education: OpenEMIS is an open-source Education Management Information System designed to manage education systems; collect and report data on student attendance, behaviour, and progress; collect and manage data on teacher qualifications and attendance; and manage data on educational institutions to optimize resources and services.  EMIS is being used in public schools and the Ministry of Education.  Private schools have been registered on EMIS and they are being trained to use the system. OpenEMIS is a data collection and management software is not a teaching and learning software.

Magnetic Media: Why is TCICC roped in with primary and high schools; these are young adults more capable of maintaining social distancing and health protocols.  I would think this age group is more capable of coping… 

TCI Ministry of Education: The Turks and Caicos Islands Community College operates independently of primary and high schools.  The College has a Board of Governors who gives oversight to is operations and the Board, informed by recommendations from the President of the College, arrived at a decision that is in the best interest of the students served by the college, faculty members and other stakeholders.  The Board, President of the College and the Ministry of Education will review the strategy for reopening and changes will be made as deemed necessary and safe.   

Magnetic Media: Precisely, why did you (MOE) abort the hybrid learning option?

TCI Ministry of Education: The Ministry of Education proposed a blended or hybrid approach to teaching and learning for the commencement of the 2020/21 academic year before the close of the 2020/2019 year.  Coming out on a discussion with the Ministry of Health and understanding the implications for teaching and learning in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic, the Ministry of Education supported a blended approach to schooling as the model for the reopening of schools.   This is captured in the draft guidelines that were developed and continues to be a feature of the guidelines.  A hybrid/blended approach is outlined in the Roadmap for Reopening schools.  The decision to reopen schools as online only for the first three weeks after formal teaching and learning begin was based on the number of positive Covid-19 cases recorded in the country before the official start of the 2020/21 school year.  This can hardly be seen as an abortion of the hybrid approach but rather as the Ministry taking steps to secure the health and safety of students as opposed to putting them directly in harm’s way.

Ministry of Education responses are from September 8, 2020

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