By Esther Durand, BVI News Staff Educators in the British Virgin Islands will be trained in alternative learning platforms in the next few days as all local schools undergo an initial 14-day closure.
The closure, which commences from Thursday, March 19, is an attempt to protect the vulnerable from the dreaded Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) that has now been confirmed in the neighbouring USVI and all major travel hubs into the BVI.
Education Minister Dr Natalio Wheatley said during a public address on Wednesday that one of the alternative teaching/learning platforms is Cisco Webex — a software that uses video conferencing, online meetings, screen-share, and webinars.
“Training for teachers in the use of the Cisco Webex will begin during the week of March 23, 2020. This training is also being extended to teachers in private schools,” Dr Wheatley said.
He said the training will be conducted by the Department of Information Technology and the ICT Unit in the Ministry of Education.
“Additional training from Google on the use of Chromebooks and the Google Classroom is being sought and is currently being finalized. Notemaster is already up and running and can be accessed at any time by teachers and students,” the minister stated.
Talks with internet providers
He said his ministry is having discussions with local telecommunications companies, potential donors, and other entities about expanding access to technological resources and the internet.
“We are also making accommodations for those who do not yet have access to technology. Further updates in this regard are forthcoming,” Dr Wheatley added.
Students will be engaged
Minister Wheatley further said students will be engaged during their time at home. He said teachers must report to work for the rest of this week to prepare work for students and complete the term’s work.
“While students are out on this mandatory break, teachers are to prepare learning resource packets containing activities for students to review and consolidate concepts taught over the term,” he noted.
Dr Wheatley said principals have been asked to utilize whatever means they have available to ensure students receive assigned work. He further said the territory’s Chief Education Officer and her team of education officers will continue to maintain contact with principals throughout the period and offer the necessary guidance and support.
“The final grades for the Lent term will be calculated based on assignments graded to date. Projects or other assignments due on or after Thursday, March 19 should go towards the Trinity term,” the minister said.
In relation to upcoming exams, Dr Wheatkey said the Exit Proficiency exams will be rescheduled for the Trinity term, and he anticipates that the Key Stage Assessments will remain for the scheduled date of June 12.
“When it comes to regional examinations, the Caribbean Examinations Council is working on establishing the most suitable time for CPEA, CSEC, and CAPE exams. This information is currently being finalized and will be released in a few weeks. In the meantime, I encourage students to use this time to continue preparations of SBAs and content preparation,” he explained.