Schools resume quite smoothly | 19 May 2020
• Minister Simeon visits seven institutions
Yesterday morning was the day when all crèches, primary and secondary schools resumed after two months of ‘special holiday’.
Many parents were quite worried about how this day would turn out, but after visiting three schools, we saw how all the staff were working hard to guide the students.
At 8.40am all students were already in class at Perseverance 2 secondary and the teachers and support staff were busy. Happy to resume work and school in a different environment imposed by COVID-19!
Our team caught up with the Minister for Education and Human Resource Development, Jeanne Simeon, and some teachers and students to gauge their feelings.
Minister Simeon visited seven schools in the north yesterday: Perseverance creche, Perseverance secondary, Perseverance primary, Anse Etoile, La Retraite, Plaisance secondary and Bel Eau. At Plaisance secondary, the minister also interacted with some students asking about the three measures put in place in all schools – vigilance, social distancing and hygiene. The school arranged for sanitisers and she noted that “your safety is your responsibility and you need to very vigilant about it”.
She asked the students to practice social distancing in the school bus and abide by the guidance of the drivers.
At the end of her visits she shared her views with our newspaper and noted that she was on the road since early morning to see how the schools were coping with the new procedures.
“I can confidently say that I am satisfied with how things went at schools and also with the movement of buses. Schools with volume of students will see how to accelerate the process through the debriefing of their teams. We also received the cooperation of the parents who respected the guidelines. By Friday we will have a general meeting at the ministry with all support providers, SPTC and omnibus operators to evaluate the situation. This will be the new normal for quite some time until we get guidance from the health department to ease on our procedures.”
Minister Simeon calls upon the society and parents to come forward if they want to help. She also thanked the police for all their assistance.
Jacqueline Celestine, head teacher of Anse Etoile school, said: “We have 475 children including crèche. We have three stations – one at crèche, one for P1, P3 and P4 and another one for P2, P5 and P6 students. This morning only a few students did not turn up. We have 51 staff and the staff were divided into three groups to be able to do the screening exercise. At crèche, staff came earlier so they were able to manage the situation really well. Whereas for the main school, we will have to rearrange our staff to start our screening. Thankfully we were not late.”
Loic Ahwen (8 years), pupil at Anse Etoile school: “I am very happy to be back at school today and I was looking forward to see my friends and my “Miss”. In the classroom, we have to leave a distance between the friends but still I am happy to be back.”
Eline Basset, teacher of P2 at Anse Etoile: “This morning everything went smoothly as all teachers took responsibility to guide their students to practice social distancing. I was looking forward to get back to work to see my little humans. During the time off, I spent time with my child and I was able to help in doing the homework. We worked together and I was happy to be with my child. Resuming class in this new normal is very interesting and we will try our best to abide by all the laws and regulations.”
Head teacher of Plaisance secondary, Raymonde Lavigne: “We have 720 students with 70 staff. The Ministry of Education made a big effort for us to be able to re-open the school. We as head teachers are faced with lots of pressure to ensure that all the screening activities are conducted on time. We had been preparing for the re-opening for more than a week in collaboration with all our partners. I would also like to bring forward a point. This morning we had the police in the vicinity to help in controlling the mobility of vehicles and parents. We should stop being negative and the community needs to understand that the police is one of our partners. There is nothing wrong at the school. This is a first time experience and we are learning together. I would like to call upon the parents to generously contribute towards getting basic needs of the school such as sanitisers. We did not ask COVID-19 to come to us and we need parents to help us.”
Horisha Savy, S5 student at Plaisance secondary: “My first day at school was ok. When I reached school, we went through screening and the queue was quite long. Arriving in class, our teachers explained to us the new guidelines about COVID-19. At 10.30, for our break, we made sure that only a few of us go get snacks for our friends. I was looking forward to seeing my friends. It’s been a long time I have not seen them but unfortunately we cannot hug each other. During the time off, I was looking after myself and spending time with my little sister which usually I don’t. My mother is an essential worker so I was happy to help around the house.”
Daine Hibonne, S5 student Plaisance secondary: “The first day was good so far. For a first day, I feel that the school did their best. I was looking forward to coming to school as I was missing my friends and also because of my IGCSE exams. We spent time talking and trying to keep our distance.”
Fred Azemia, deputy Head teacher, Plaisance secondary and responsible for the screening: “Contrary to the belief of some, we actually completed the exercise with only some minutes late. There are of course some things we need to improve. After screening, all children are sent to their respective classes.”
The accompanying photographs by Thomas Meriton and Patrick Joubert show some highlights of the first day of school yesterday.