Minister for Education, Culture, Youth Affairs, Fisheries and Agriculture, Dr The Hon Natalio D. Wheatley (R7) says Government is prepared to close schools for a while longer, should the COVID-19 lockdown go beyond April 19, 2020.
The Minister was at the time speaking on the Tuesday, April 7, 2020, edition of "Honestly Speaking' with host Claude O. Skelton-Cline.
Schools could remain closed
"We are preparing that if schools do not reopen, and the lockdown period has to continue, which nobody really wants that... certainly, we have to be prepared for that depending on what happens in these 14 days," Hon Wheatley said.
He noted that the extended curfew coincided with school closure for Easter break but if more time is required, schools have to remain closed.
All schools in the VI closed from Thursday, March 19, 2020, for 14 days, in the first instance; however, the Virgin Islands went into its first 6-day COVID-19 complete lockdown from Friday, March 27, 2020 to Thursday, April 7, 2020, after which an extended curfew was implemented until April 16, 2020 and is expected to be extended to April 19, 2020.
Even before schools closed for the Easter break, students at public schools have been learning via google classroom.
Private schools have been utilising various digital means, including Google Classroom, Zoom, Youtube, Whatsapp and even direct calls to get their sessions with students done.
The Minister said; however, that students who don't have access to technology remain a concern and that Government is working to address the issue.
"The Ministry put together a survey so that we can pinpoint the number of persons who don't have access so that we can try to see what we can do to facilitate them."
Dr Wheatley announced that Unite BVI has agreed to provide 132 Chromebooks for public school students in senior grades; however, he noted that the full data on how many computers are needed is still being gathered.
The Minister also revealed that two of the local telecom providers, Flow and Digicel, have agreed to provide zero-rated data access to a number of educational websites to be announced.
Flow will also offer discounted plans and its Flow Study will be available for three months for free and Digicel will also be providing laptops to selected schools; however, he said the details are being ironed out.