Friday, April 19, 2024

Ashfall, cleaning delay reopening of schools to April 26


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The resumption of face-to-face classes at schools in Barbados will now commence on April 26.

In an address to the country moments ago, Minister of Education, Santia Bradshaw revealed the classes would now start on April 26, as a massive clean-up of about 105 schools across Barbados would first have to be completed before students could return.

Classes were due to restart on Monday, but Bradshaw said that was impossible due to the heavy levels of ash that fell on all buildings in Barbados between last Saturday and yesterday, as a result of the continued explosions of the La Soufriere volcano in St Vincent and the Grenadines.

When questioned by the media about the controversial Common Entrance Exam for this year, Bradshaw said it was way too early to start thinking about that at this stage.

“The ash from the volcano has fallen on every school plant. No school has been spared,” the minister confirmed. “It entered mostly through ventilation blocks and also through some windows. Every school – and we have about 105 in Barbados – will have to be cleaned thoroughly before school can restart,” she stressed.

The minister, in response to another question by the media, said a high level of training of teachers and ancillary staff would have to be undertaken across the education system about emergency protocol procedures at school since the current training relates to natural disasters such as hurricanes and possibly earthquakes.

Bradshaw said the government was now in the process of reaching out to cleaning and contracting companies to make sure more hands were placed on deck to facilitate the cleaning. She added the cleaning of water tanks, generators and photovoltaic systems would also be prioritised in the coming days.

Additional Personal Protective Equipment will also be sourced by the ministry for people involved in the cleaning process.

A heavy layer of ash at The Lester Vaughan School, April 12, 2021. (Picture by Reco Moore)

Though school restarts on April 26, Bradshaw said online classes held by the Erdiston Teachers College and the University of the West Indies would continue. Clean-up of the Barbados Community College plant has already started, and she said they were hopeful classes at the BCC’s hospitality institute could start on April 19.

She added that since ash could start falling at any time, they were still hoping to procure more electronic devices that aid in remote learning.

“We always have online classes as a back-up,” Bradshaw noted.

According to the minister, the length of the coming term still cannot be confirmed, not with the fall of ash and the way it could affect schools remaining an unknown entity. (BA)


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