Black Immigrant Daily News
Parents and teachers have communicated their disappointment and frustration with the Ministry of Education’s belief that it is easy to switch from the physical classroom to the online class at the drop of a hat and overnight when unplanned emergencies occur and force school closures.
It is not like you have two cars and one break down so you can just jump in the other and go
Speaking to Loop News under anonymity, one teacher said, “Children gave back in their devices at the start of the first term back in September. Some children never had devices. Some children used parents’ phones or gadgets when they were home as well. I did not even teach this same class last year and have no information pertaining to online for this set of students. Their books are at school too because the notice came after school was already closed the previous day. Going online is not as easy they think it is.”
In an interview with Loop, when asked about these issues raised by the educator, the Head of the Barbados Union of Teachers, Rudy Lovell said that the educator was correct on all aspects, and he added, “In addition, some of the children cannot even remember their log-in credentials even if they have devices. Or again, some have no internet connection at home.” He reminded that there are students who used to go by family members or family friends during the height of COVID just to partake in classes.
We would not be opposed to an online day… We would support it
Furthermore, to the ministry he reminded:
“More needs to be done. It is not like you have two cars and one break down so you can just jump in the other and go. It takes planning, more planning.
“You can’t just transition between in-person and online unless accustomed.”
He commended teachers who do not just toss their hands in the air on the occasions that these instances crop up, but to Ministry officials, he said, “We would try to facilitate, but it’s not easy.”
Planned online days for practice
Responding to a suggestion from one parent to Loop News for the schools to organise specific days to trial and test the online modality every now and then, Lovell said he could fully support that move. “We would not be opposed to an online day… We would support it, but you have ensure students have devices.”
He posited that the online days can even be conducted at school by year level, because he is cognisant that many schools do not have Internet capacity to support all students going online all at once on one day. He said it could be a year by year approach, so that when tragedy or issue strikes, it is not a hard task to switch and a missed opportunity to keep the teaching and learning process going without disruption.
Lovell is for any balance that would not disadvantage the students after the burden they have carried over the past three years.
On the flip side, when told that some parents complained to Loop News about the last-minute switch to online because they have no one to keep their children or maybe to cook for them when the closure notices come with little advanced notice, he said, as a parent himself, “parents need to adjust.” He did not cast blame on the Ministry of Education or point any fingers.
The questions came following the ruptured main at a St Michael secondary school this week that led to a two-day closure, and Lovell said in that case, “The Ministry ain’t burst the main on purpose.
“Parents need to realise they need to have a contingency plan. I myself am a parent and it is just a part of life now.” He said that before getting up in arms, parents and guardians need to adapt and for their children they have to do what is best when these situations crop up no matter how much of an inconvenience.