NIA CHARLESTOWN NEVIS (September 09, 2021) — The following is an address by Hon. Troy Liburd, Junior Minister of Education in the Nevis Island Administration (NIA) regarding the reopening of school.
Fellow citizens and residents,
I address you now in my capacity as Minister with Responsibility for Education on the Island of Nevis.
As you are aware, the Ministry of Education took the decision on Friday of last week, to delay the reopening of all public schools on Nevis by one week. At the same time the decision was also taken to temporarily close the offices of the Ministry and Department of Education at Marion Heights. This was as a result of a key education official contracting COVID-19, triggering a domino effect of contact tracing protocols, for most officers operating from that location, and extended to some principals and teachers in some of our schools.
The health and safety of our students during their time at our schools remains our top priority, and thus the decisions were taken to delay the reopening.
Notwithstanding the closure of our physical offices, education officials continued to work and to plan towards the reopening of schools. As of today September 9th 2021, the offices of the Ministry and Department of Education are now reopened.
I want to assure you the parents and the general public that the Ministry of Education continues to work assiduously to ensure that all possible plans are in place to provide safe, quality education for our students on Nevis. Education officials, principals and teachers have been involved in numerous planning sessions, fine-tuning the protocols to ensure the safest possible environment for all of our schools.
Therefore, the decision has been taken for all public schools on Nevis to open on Monday 13th September. The opening will be in accordance [with] the various protocols that have been developed for each school and communicated with parents.
We have taken the decision to implement an alternate day schedule across the system for the first two weeks in the first instance. This is to decrease the numbers in the schools with the aim of protecting both students and staff and by extension, decrease the potential spread of the virus.
While we are aware of some of the implications associated with this decision, we want to reinforce the fact that every measure which is considered and implemented is done with the best interest of all parties in mind. Principals will communicate the arrangements and provide further details during your scheduled PTA meetings.
We ask parents to cooperate and to continue to partner with your schools to ensure that the teaching and learning process remains safe.
The Ministry continues to urge the immediate vaccination of all teachers, auxiliary school staff, day care and nursery providers. If you will not do it for yourself then I beg of you to do it for those in your care, those who are depending on you.
Vaccination remains our best hope of getting passed this dreadful disease. It is the best way to beat this disease, and it is the best way for our teachers and caregivers to help to protect the children that parents send to school daily.
It remains a cause for concern, and indeed it is disheartening to know that more than half of our teaching staff remain unvaccinated.
I implore you to consider the health and safety of our children, to consider that those below the age of 12 do not have an option to vaccinate, and are thus dependent on us to ensure that we buffer them from the devastation that COVID-19 can bring.
Throughout this global pandemic the government has continuously called on our people to act responsibly. Time and time again we have asked that our people adhere to the protocols, wear their mask, wash their hands and use hand sanitizer regularly, avoid crowded places and practice social distancing.
In addition, we have deployed vaccines for free. The government has secured Astra Zeneca and now the FDA-approved Pfizer vaccines for the protection of our people.
Many have come forward, and we thank you, but still some have said that they prefer to chance it. I would urge that you would reconsider, as we are dealing with a highly contagious and dangerous virus, and your decision may expose others.
In this difficult time, and it just that, a difficult time for all of us here in Nevis, it is perhaps okay for us to ask, what kind of a country are we? What kind of a people are we? and what direction we want to move in? COVID-19 is here, none of us brought it but all of our lives have been impacted by it.
I would ask that we continue to be our brother’s keeper, that we adhere to the necessary protocols, and that we partner with the Ministry of Education, with our parents and teachers and staff to ensure a safe and productive school year.
Thank you and may God continue to protect us all.