OBSERVER MEDIA – School is currently out on Christmas break for most of the student population in Antigua and Barbuda, and the Deputy Director of Education is reminding pupils to adhere to Covid-19 protocols.

Ezra Jonah Greene said that while this vacation period is normally reserved for relaxation and spending time with family and friends, safety is an important factor as well.

“We want school to reopen in January and we want our schools to operate up until the end of the academic year and that can only be possible if persons maintain the protocols, if persons remember that they have to remain safe, not only for themselves but for their neighbours and for others,” she explained in a recent interview with Observer.

Following the implementation of a vaccine mandate in early November for students in the 12 to 17 age group, the government relaxed the measure, allowing both vaccinated and unvaccinated pupils back in the classroom on November 22.

Measures to manage the virus have caused major strain on the lives of many for almost two years, with a major hit to global travel, manufacturing and the tourism sector across the globe. However, education experts have also warned of the negative impacts the pandemic has been having on educational instruction as well.

Since the first quarter of 2020, students have been rotating between remote learning and face-to-face instruction, a reality that educators have warned is causing major negative impacts to how students learn.

Some pupils also had to take extra classes during the summer to aid the curriculum recovery process.

In acknowledging these constraints, Greene is also encouraging students to make time for their studies during the holidays.

“Students have been out of school for a very long time … as our students go into the holiday period, I am encouraging our students to keep abreast, to keep reading, to keep the curriculum going,” she said, while admonishing fifth formers, especially, to continue preparing for their Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) examinations as well as to continue working on their school-based assessments.

All public schools are expected to reopen on January 4.