All schools have officially recommenced learning operations. The Ministry of Education, Human Resource Planning, Vocational Training and National Excellence welcomed fifth form students island wide to virtual classes via the Google Classroom on September, 13 2021. The remaining students returned to classes virtually on Monday October 04 2021.
The Government of Dominica has taken the decision to postpone the reopening of face to face learning to safeguard its students from the Covid-19 virus. The Ministry has taken into consideration the anxiety surrounding the start of a new school year during this wave.
Online learning was implemented last year to facilitate a safer environment for students. Minister of State in the Office of the Prime Minister, with Responsibility for Telecommunications and Broadcasting, Hon. Oscar George says students and teachers will face challenges with the online environment, like the rest of the world, but it is necessary at this time.
“Government has a responsibility to evaluate the risk of exposure to Covid-19 and implement measures to minimize that risk. So while the current arrangement might not be perfect, it is however warranted and there are clear directives in place by the Ministry of Education to overcome any potential challenges. Government has consistently provided thousands of devices to students in recent months to facilitate online activities in this new school year and this is an ongoing process that will continue in the upcoming periods, bearing in mind these devices must be procured from outside of Dominica; so in certain instances, there will be some waiting periods. The telecommunications regulator, which is essentially the arm of Government responsible for ensuring universal access, has delivered in a big way to address the gaps in connectivity over the last year,” Minister George stated.
He says the safety of students remain of paramount importance. He says vaccination is the clear way to regain a sense of normalcy. The Pfizer vaccine has been made available for students aged twelve to seventeen.
“Government has been pushing an aggressive vaccination campaign which includes consistent education and information on the subject of vaccines. To date, all the evidence we have seen so far, it is clear that the vaccines work and it is the only way out of this pandemic. So I want to encourage our students, don’t play games with your health. Get vaccinated so that if you happen to contract the virus, your body will be better able to fight off the disease and reduce the threat of you dying,” the Minister explained.
Minister George says over half a million dollars is being spent to subsidize the cost of providing internet access across Dominica.
“Communities that had no internet since the advent of Hurricane Maria. The NTRC has also provided a number of desktop computers, laptops, develop community networks and in some instances even provided support towards building the capacity in managing these networks. So lots of work have been done, however lots more have to be done, particularly by the service providers to ensure that every single locality and every single Dominican has access to quality connectivity and importantly are able to afford this service,” Minister George added.