Face-to-face learning is set to resume across public schools within the territory over the next two weeks, starting with select categories, then all students from January 31.

This was the announcement made by the Deputy Premier and Minister for Education Dr. Natalio Wheatley during an interview on Tola Radio on Monday January 17.

He said starting next week Monday, students with special needs will be among the category of students allowed to reenter the classrooms physically.

“On the 24th we’re going to have some smaller groups come in, those with special needs and some other special categories that we want to get in, starting from next week Monday. And what we’re going to do on the following week, on the 31st, we’re going to resume face to face for everyone,” he stated.

I’m aware of the difficulty of online learning

Dr. Wheatley said he is aware of the challenges faced by some students with the online learning platform which put those students at a disadvantage.

He said the decision to return to face-to-face comes after consultation with the BVI Health Services Authority who agreed to the decision, once COVID cases continue to decline.

“Let me just say, I know it is difficult. This spike that we had is very disruptive to our institutions like school, it is disruptive to business, it is disruptive to everybody. When people catch COVID-19 they have to go home, that includes teachers, that includes students and of course it is our duty to ensure that persons remain safe as well. So we took the recommendation from the Health Services in terms of online for a period, but we recognized that some students are disadvantaged by that,” he stated.

He added, “Not all the students, but some of the students are disadvantaged from that and we want to have face to face learning as quickly as it is safe to do so. And in discussions with the Health Services we’ve come up with a date to resume face-to-face sessions and we’ll just say God willing that our numbers continue to decrease.”

Update on testing regime scheduled for Wednesday

Meanwhile, the Education Minister also revealed that there will be a press conference held this Wednesday to update the public on how his ministry intends to roll out the COVID-19 testing regime in public schools across the BVI.

The minister did not release much information on the details of the testing regime, but assured residents that mass testing of students is not on the cards.