In normal times students across the Territory would have been preparing for the new school year, but because of the COVID 19 global pandemic Minister for Education, Culture, Dr. The Hon. Natalio D. Wheatley announced that another unconventional year of learning is ahead for BVI students.
During his Territorial address on 25 August Hon. Wheatley reported that although many parents were hoping traditional schooling would recommence the Ministry has decided not to allow this. The Minister in explaining the reason for the decision noted that the fluidity of this COVID 19 situation is a problem.
Hon. Wheatley explained that following Cabinet’s previous decision, he intended to deliver a statement last week on the opening of schools. “However, soon after, I received news from the Minister for Health that we had an additional case. Since that time, we have had several positive COVID-19 cases with a total of 17 presently active.”
Hon. Wheatley explained that the need for safety as it relates to BVI students is supported by facts and findings as he stated that alarmingly some of the recently discovered cases of COVID 19 in the Territory included school aged children. Based on such dramatic findings the Minister of Education said that non-traditional schooling is being mulled: “In light of this extremely serious reality, I cannot in good conscience proceed with the plan to reopen schools to face instruction. This will place administrators, teachers, support staff, and, our most precious resource, and our children all at risk.”
The majority of the last school year featured online learning and Hon. Wheatley said that he knows that because of more regular traditional methods of instruction is being craved and many have criticized the Ministry for not making this possible: “I am aware of the fact that many are yearning for the return to the classroom, and I have received criticism from many who are advocating the opening of the Territory, but we must prioritize the health of our children and our people above all other considerations.”
Therefore, the Minister said that the schools will return to online learning for the rest of the year. “This includes all public schools and private schools, and our primary, secondary, and tertiary learning institutions. Cabinet will reevaluate the situation in the coming weeks and months to determine when it will be safe to return to the classroom. Until then we will continue to rely on the use of technology.”