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Ministry satisfied with progress and preparedness ahead of school re-opening | 14 May 2020

Ministry satisfied with progress and preparedness ahead of school re-opening

Minister for Education and Human Resource Development (MERHD) Jeanne Simeon is confident that schools will be adequately prepared for re-opening on Monday.

She expressed this yesterday after visiting four schools to assess their progress and action plans in putting in place measures advised by the department of health.

Minister Simeon, who forms part of the senior management team within the ministry which are assigned to different schools to offer support, together with principal secretary for early childhood, primary and secondary education Odile De Comarmond, commenced their visit at Perseverance crèche and primary school followed by Perseverance secondary school, where they interacted with school leaders and council chairpersons, regarding the measures and challenges they are facing in implementing the measures and what is left to be done ahead of the re-opening.

Touring the crèche, which is located on the same premises as the Perseverance primary school, Minister Simeon expressed satisfaction at the work completed thus far which includes deep cleaning and hosing down of the facilities as well as improved outside maintenance.

“As you know, yesterday (Tuesday 12), we had a meeting with school leaders and council chairpersons to see their plan for the re-opening of schools on Monday May 18. They shared some of the preoccupations and challenges that they are faced with at the schools and today, all the members of the senior management team at the ministry have been deployed to visit the schools to see the challenges they have and to see how we can address them together,” she noted.

According to the school’s action plan for the re-opening, screening of the 610 students enrolled at the crèche and primary school was to be held at the main gate and parents would be obligated to drop children off at the gate and have no access to school premises. However, after discussions with officials of the ministry yesterday, it has been agreed that screening should be conducted closer to school buildings on account of unpredictable weather conditions and to better manage the circulation and flow of children.

“We have decided that parents with children in crèche be allowed to enter school premises and go through the screening process with the children, as they will also, as part of the process have to answer questions regarding their children’s health. As for primary school students, parents are to remain outside the gate and will drop them off at the gate, for them to go through the screening process and then into their respective classes,” the minister said.

“Not everything will be 100 percent in place and there will be things that we will learn along the way and eventually improve for health, as you know, there are three principles including heightened vigilance, social distancing and hygiene. Of course we will ensure that this is put into application. The first days we will take the opportunity to sensitise our pupils and to improve, and this will be followed by discussions with out different partners and the ministry the measures that we are struggling with and the ones that are effective,” said head teacher of the primary school Bernadette Maria.

Ms Maria urged parents to cooperate by educating their children at home and trying their best to give them what they need, including personal hand towels and tea break snacks as pupils from crèche and P1 up to P3 will remain in their classes during tea break, in a bid to minimise the amount of children circulating at the same time and to maintain social distancing. Once children have been screened in the morning, they will be sent directly to their respective classes.

Moving on to Perseverance secondary school, Minister Simeon and her accompanying delegation were greeted by head teacher Marie-Mai Ntep, who once again guided her on a tour of the premises where work was still ongoing.

The school accommodates 669 pupils and 78 members of staff.

“For the time being, I think we are doing well as we have already completed the outside work. For the time being, the teachers are cleaning up the classrooms to allow the cleaning agency to power wash the school today. We are focusing on demarcations inside the classroom as well as outside where screening will be held. We are trying our best to be ready on time and I think we are almost there and staff morale is high so we are confident that we will be on target,” Ms Ntep stated.

She added that she is confident that the school is equipped with adequate resources to be able to conduct screening, which will commence as of 7am.

Following the visit to her two main assigned schools, Minister Simeon moved on to La Retraite and Anse Etoile primary schools.

“I can say that most things are ready and today being Wednesday, we have four days remaining as staff have committed to working even through Sunday if they are yet to complete the preparations so I expect that in the remaining time, they will be ready for Monday. I visited two schools at Perseverance and assessed them in terms of their preparedness for the re-opening on Monday. We’ve looked at the three guiding principles as per our plan which is what they have in place for vigilance, screening, what they have in place for social distancing and what they have in place for improved hygiene.

“We consult that primary schools are a bit more advanced in their preparations and they are almost ready. As for the secondary school, they still have some challenges but we have not lost hope as we still have four days remaining and I think they will ready as they have their partners working alongside them so I can say I am satisfied with the work done by the two schools thus far,” Minister Simeon stated, referring to the two schools at Perseverance.  

She further launched an appeal to parents and stakeholders to help out and offer whatever support and assistance they can to schools at this difficult time, and to help ease the pressure off schools and staff, in line with the ministry’s chosen theme ‘Education is a shared responsibility’.

All schools were yesterday visited by 17 members of the senior management team, including representatives of Praslin and La Digue who assessed and checked the various schools preparedness, cleanliness, activities and other matters.

The accompanying photos by Jude Morel show Minister Simeon visiting the creche and schools at Perseverance.


Laura Pillay

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