Africa-Press – Seychelles. Schools across the country have been able to learn and share knowledge and experience on how they are coping with the Covid-19 pandemic in relation to teaching and learning.
This was through a half-day virtual seminar organised by the Ministry of Education to commemorate the fourth International Day of Education on Monday.
The aim of the webinar under the theme ‘Recovering and restoring learning-coping with the change’ was for the audience to have a better insight into what the schools have done to mitigate the spread of Covid-19 and how they have been coping with the crisis.
The webinar, for all schools in the country including some members of staff of the ministry, was coordinated in the minister’s conference room where physically in attendance were Minister Justin Valentin and other high officials of the ministry.
Given the limited time, only the heads of the Grand Anse Mahé primary school, the Beau Vallon primary, the Perseverance secondary, Praslin secondary, the La Digue school (combined crèche, primary and secondary), the Seychelles Business Studies Academy (SBSA) and the Seychelles Institute of Technology (SIT) were chosen to make their presentations with regard to their achievements and challenges in mitigating the spread of Covid-19 to ensure continued learning for students.
All the schools had to develop their working and mitigation plans against the spread of the virus based on the standard operating procedures (SOPs) set by the ministry in collaboration with the Ministry of Health. The presentations were followed by plenary sessions.
In the presentations, it was evident that the main health guidelines – screening, social distancing, mask wearing and hand sanitising, among other measures to curb the spread of the virus – were practiced in all schools. Students with symptoms of the virus, or who were seen to be sick, were isolated, given medical assistance, sent home and thereafter encouraged to stay at home until recovery from illness.
Staff who developed symptoms of Covid-19 had to inform their supervisors and were refrained from coming to work until recovery. Both students and staff are encouraged to seek further evaluation at Covid-19 screening clinics.
Apart from following their SOPs, the schools also adjusted their work schedules in relation to teaching and learning where during closure and alternate classes, students followed classes on line and those who do not have access to internet were given learning packs which were collected at their respective schools.
It also came out that most of the schools have over 85% of their staff vaccinated against the virus and all are encouraging those who have not been vaccinated, including students from ages 12 to 17 years old, to take their vaccines as a mean of protection to them and to others.
Some schools have even started to conduct antigen testing and training for staff.
The schools also welcomed the continued engagement and support of the ministry, parents and the community at large in their action plans for the new normal.
Among the concerns raised was the lack of resources and for better access to internet.
They also called on the importance of keeping the SOPs against the virus in place, further to adjustments could be made to suit eventualities, such as a pandemic, which may arise.
John Lesperance, the principal secretary for Education Sector Development, said the ministry is impressed with arrangements made by the different schools to contain the spread of the virus to ensure continued teaching and learning.
He added that the pandemic has made the ministry and the schools more resilient through the many lessons learned in finding alternative teaching methods and modes of operations, and a change in mindset, especially with regard to online learning.
He noted that although with a lack of resources, the ministry will continue to give its maximum to support the schools with their plans and programmes.
He said that the ministry is in negotiation with the internet service providers for better access of internet in schools.
With regard to lack of teachers, Mr Lesperance said that the ministry is working to recruit some local teachers who had been out of the system while it also welcomes back a pool of foreign teachers who had been away on holiday.
He also noted that some spouses of some foreign workers working in the country have shown interest in joining the teaching profession and the ministry is looking to recruit them also.
The seminar kick-started with welcome introductory remarks by Minister Valentin which was followed by an overview of the Covid-19 SOPs in place for all schools, presented by Regina Prosper, the director of health, safety and risk management in the ministry.
She said that they continue to learn as they move along with new developments and update their SOPs and forms to better coordinate the management of Covid-19 in schools while they also continue to train and build up on lessons learnt.