Similar to many parents and educators around the island, I have watched your press conference with great attention on Saturday. The information you provided has answered the majority of questions and concerns I had, as a parent. However, there are some measures that you have announced that seem contentious to me.
Firstly, you have announced that parents will have to accompany their children to school on the 1st of August to apprise of the instructions and precautions that need to be taken. While the inclusion of parents at this stage is a positive step, you will agree that it will be problematic for parents who have two or more children starting on that day in different schools. While parents may split the duty, some will not be able to do so because of work commitments and because leaves are hard to come by in post COVID-19 situation. I humbly suggest that schools be allowed to handle this situation to their discretion where neither children are penalised nor parents who cannot attend left in the dark or in confusion.
Secondly, and this is my biggest concern, is the announcement that children will not be allowed outside the classroom during break time. I do not agree at all with this measure. I fully appreciate that this has been given due consideration in the interest of children’s health but I believe it to be to the detriment of children’s fundamental need to spend pent-up energy after hours in the classroom and that of interacting by way of play with their peers. If the confinement has taught us anything, it is the value of outdoors and its impact on our mental wellbeing. I cannot imagine my children or other children being cooped up in class after having spent so many days in a similar situation at home. I would also add that this has the huge potential of adding to the strain that educators will experience, along with the “new normal” in classrooms. I would therefore urge you to reconsider this measure.
Madam, I am a proud citizen of this country and will always lend a hand to its betterment, as many parents across the island. You and your teams are the experts in pedagogy; we, parents, are experts in our children and are directly related to and impacted by the decisions taken by your ministry. I therefore request you to consider having a “parents’/citizens’ voice” in your decision-making panels, a step which has also been expressed as a progressive one by other parents/citizens. Our ultimate objective is the same: improving our country and securing the future of our children and I cannot think of a better ministry to lead the way with such an initiative.