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Barbados: New school term delayed a week due to La Soufrière ashfall

The start of the new school term has been delayed by a week because the Ministry of Education, Technology and Vocational Training is starting a massive clean-up of school facilities, due to the asphalt of the volcano La Soufrière.

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Barbados: The start of the new school term has been delayed by a week because the Ministry of Education, Technology and Vocational Training is starting a massive clean-up of school facilities, due to the asphalt of the volcano La Soufrière.

Term 3, for all students in public kindergartens, special schools, primary and secondary schools, now starts on Monday 26 April. This applies to both personal and online classes.

Read More: Flights diverted from Caribbean to avoid ash cloud

Education Minister Santia Bradshaw made the announcement this morning during an update on the reopening of schools.

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The Trinity term would initially begin on Tuesday, April 20, with Class Three and Class Four students preparing for the Common Admission Exam and fifth and sixth grade students doing the Caribbean Exam Board (CXC) exams and returning to physical school plants. Other year groups will work online.

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“As it relates to CXCs, as you know, we would have prepared for students who would re-take exams, and especially practical exams and school-based assessments (SBAs). The laboratories were, of course, filled with ash at this time. Therefore, we have taken the position that none of the SBAs or practicals will be completed or carried out before the cleaning has been done at the respective schools,” said Bradshaw.

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She revealed that Barbados’ CXC registrar is meeting with the local body and other registrars to discuss what happened to Barbados, St Vincent and other islands.

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She added that students would receive further details on plans regarding their exams within the next ‘hours or days’.

Bradshaw said the Barbados Vocational Training Board’s opening and the Samuel Jackman Prescod Institute of Technology would also be delayed by a week due to the ashfall.

Due to its small student role, the Barbados Community College (BCC) Hospitality Institute will reopen for personal tuition on Monday, April 19, once all is clear.

Besides, students doing the practical components on BCC’s Eyrie campus are expected to return from Monday, April 26th. This includes students enrolled for courses in Health Sciences, Physical Education, General Education, Technology, Finance and Trade. All other classes will continue in the meantime.

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Classes at Erdiston Teachers’ Training College and the University of the West Indies will also be facilitated online. All the institutions are engaged in extensive cleaning.

In terms of the Barbados Secondary Schools Admission Exam or General Admission Exam, which was also affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Minister of Education said it was still too early to say when that exam would take place.

She pointed out that the Ministry is more concerned about the mental well – being of students at the moment with everything going on, than just setting a date for the exam.

‘I think I approve of making it clear that the Common Entrance will not define the lives of these children, but what we do in terms of how we deal with their ability to deal with the anxiety surrounding COVID and now , I think of course that we as adults need to pay attention to what happens.”

“So I think being ready for an exam. I think for most kids it’s the farthest thing they think. I think we just need to get the country back to a normal level. And as long as we can overcome this period, I give the assurance that we will make decisions very quickly and not just what we will do up to the common entrance, but generally with regard to online and certainly with regard to the future for a number of our students,” Bradshaw explained.

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