By LÉANDRA ROLLE
Journalist of the Tribune
Students in quarantined public schools will still be allowed to take the 2021 national exams provided they meet the criteria set by the Department of Education, Education Minister Jeff Lloyd said yesterday.
According to officials, only students in quarantine who have been tutored by the Department of Health, who have not tested positive for the virus or have shown symptoms of COVID-19 or are in quarantine but are not living with a person positive for COVID-19 are eligible to take the exams.
Yesterday Mr Lloyd said quarantined students who meet the criteria and have been approved by health officials will be welcomed by his department and allowed to take this year’s exams.
However, he said, when students arrive with high temperatures at the designated testing site, they will not be allowed to take the exams.
“We will provide a place for students who will have the opportunity to take the exams,” he told reporters yesterday. “Of course we are guided as I have indicated by the health officials and the protocols they have established. We want every child to have the opportunity to take an exam.
“Now there are those who will not qualify. For example, if a child comes to the center and has a high temperature, the child will not be allowed to take exams, or the child has not been cleared by the Ministry of Health. It is only under these circumstances that the Ministry of Health will send information to schools or school administrators and indicate that these are the students eligible to take the exams based on the information the ministry has at its disposal. moment.
“So these will really and only include those who have no symptoms and have not tested positive or those who are living with someone who has not tested positive or has not been exposed. “
In a statement released yesterday, the Education Ministry said representatives of the Health Ministry’s surveillance team would contact schools to notify them of quarantined students allowed to take national exams.
As to what will happen to isolated students who will not be able to take the important tests this year, Mr Lloyd said they will have the option to do so in 2022. “If you are not allowed to take it under this circumstance In particular, you will not be able to go any further than now, because the integrity of the exam is then compromised and we obviously cannot compromise the integrity of the exam, ”he said.
Mr Lloyd said that while the situation does not have much impact on students taking BJCs, it can affect those taking BGCSE exams, especially those applying for scholarships or universities that may demand results. of tests.
“This is the BGCSE that is of great concern to us, as students who miss it this year will likely have difficulty entering University of the Bahamas or qualifying for scholarships or universities abroad, which is of concern to us. a lot. why we insist that people follow the protocols as much as possible and certainly from an adult’s point of view, to get vaccinated, ”he said.
Asked how many official students expect to be affected, he replied, “I don’t have specific numbers, but my information is that we are talking a bit. We are not talking about a group of people. Dozens rather than hundreds.
Academic Level Assessment Tests (GLAT) for third and sixth graders began on Monday. Meanwhile, the BJC and BGCSE exams are scheduled to run until June 25.
Schools closed in March 2020 due to the pandemic, but were then reopened after summer vacation last October.
However, schools in New Providence, Abaco, Eleuthera, and Exuma were teaching virtually until they were given the green light to begin face-to-face learning in February. In May, authorities announced that public schools would return to virtual learning to reduce the risk of COVID-19.
Yesterday Mr Lloyd said officials remained optimistic schools would resume normal operations in September.
“We are looking forward to this,” he said. “As soon as our population is vaccinated, we plan to go back to what you describe as normal, so we look forward to a return in September to what you consider to be face-to-face learning for most of our and otherwise. , all our schools, but again, it depends on the population to be vaccinated.