All students to resume full-time classroom-based learning on 02 February 2022
At a press conference held this afternoon in Port Louis, the Vice-Prime Minister, Minister of Education, Tertiary Education, Science and Technology, Mrs Leela Devi Dookun-Luchoomun, announced that all pre-primary, primary, secondary and tertiary education institutions would reopen on 02 February 2022 and that a team was working to create the best conditions for students to resume full-time school-based learning at that date.
The president of the National COVID-19 Vaccination Committee, Dr Zouberr Joomaye, was present too at the press conference.
The Vice-Prime Minister recalled that schools were closed in November 2021, following the sharp rise in COVID-19 cases and as part of efforts to curb the spread of the virus. Remote learning mode, through online platforms and television programmes, was then implemented to run until 31st January 2022, to ensure learning continuity. She explained that an analysis of the sanitary situation allowed the Education Ministry, which was in constant communication with the Health Authorities and the High-Level Committee on COVID-19, to decide to resume classroom-based learning as from February 2022.
Underlining that school closures due to the pandemic brought about a major disruption in children’s lives, Mrs Dookun-Luchoomun affirmed that counselling units and the Directorate for Health and Wellness of the Ministry would give particular attention to the emotional and social welfare of the children. “Our priority remains the social and emotional well-being of the children and our objective is to work towards their holistic development,” insisted the Minister. She added that Heads of schools and educational institutions needed to establish a school readiness plan for the reopening not only to enable schoolchildren and students to achieve academic progress but also to contribute to their emotional balance.
On the health front, the measures and actions to be taken to prevent, detect and control COVID-19 infections in education premises were spelt out by the Minister. Health protocols, including clear hygiene directives of wearing of masks and hand washing and sanitising, together with guidelines on social distancing and staggered schedule would still be in effect to reduce the risk of infection.
Moreover, a COVID-19 testing area would be designated in each school so that the newly created 90-member COVID-19 testing team could be deployed in schools when positive cases are detected to identify new infections. Rooms, where cases are detected, would be cleaned and disinfected on the same day, highlighted Mrs Dookun-Luchoomun.
Furthermore, the Minister underlined that teachers would be required in February to evaluate students’ progress and any learning gap so that remedial action could be offered. She affirmed that experts at her Ministry were reviewing the school calendar, syllabus coverage, and assessment modalities, among others, and would propose readjustments to improve the school system which had to be reorganised as a result of the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic. “The report on these issues would be received on Tuesday next,” she averred.
As for the president of the National COVID-19 Vaccination Committee, he asserted that the situation was currently under control, with the occupancy rates now standing at 20% at the ENT and in COVID Wards in Regional Hospitals, against 80% in November 2021. He indicated that 60% of teaching and non-teaching staff had been vaccinated till date, while the vaccination rate for young people aged 15 to 17 years old was 94% and that for 12-14 years old was 43,6%. Dr Zouberr Joomaye remarked that school reopening should go smoothly as the High-Level Committee and the relevant authorities were addressing effectively concerns on school preparedness.
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Republic of Mauritius.