D.O.E. Officials Reaffirm Aug. 9 Public School Reopening Date; Educators to Focus on Social and Emotional Wellness of Students in First Ten Days

VI Ministry of Education officials confidently answered questions from elected members of the VI Education Committee on Monday and outlined their plans to reopen public schools for full face-to-face learning on Aug. 9.

Board of Education chairman Kyza Callwood began the meeting by asking Dionne Wells-Hedrington, DOE Chief Operations Officer, whether the schools will actually be ready by August 9th. “Yes, we will be ready,” said Mrs. Well-Hedrington.

She stated that in preparation for the school’s reopening, DOE “focused on the Covid-related items first,” followed by safety concerns.

“We’ve done some beautification on our campus,” she added.

Mr Callwood asked if there was any work being done on signage, installing Covid disinfection devices in toilets, and other statewide priorities, among other things. Mrs. Wells-Hedrington said these items were on the island “but some things are still being installed”.

Education Commissioner Raquel Berry-Benjamin said: “The department has already mastered its response.” you spoke of a situation in March, where the department had to return to virtual learning pending a test result from a suspected Covid-19 case. ”The education officer responded to a board member’s concern about contingency plans. She said full reopening plans would be “released” by the end of this week. ”

Xiomara Ottley-Herman, Assistant Superintendent of St. Croix, outlined Education’s strategy to help students transition back to face-to-face learning. “Our teaching focus for this school year is three-fold: we have social emotions and wellbeing, data-driven lesson planning and standards-based teaching,” she said.

Ms. Ottley-Herman admitted that the students had not been on campus for over a year. “They also experienced social and emotional losses or trials during this period, so for the first ten days of school we focus on building relationships with our students. We focus on establishing routines and procedures to ensure that we have a safe and smooth process. ” Continuity of learning in a well-rounded environment. ”

During the first week, she expects the teachers to take the “I Ready” diagnostic test in English, language arts and mathematics; Manage student interest surveys and implement classroom activities to find out what students can and cannot do.

“In the second week, teachers will reinforce the routines and procedures and focus on basic skills to be successful in the 2021-2022 school year,” said Ms. Ottley-Herman. “You will also use this time to review the diagnostic data, to create and map educational paths and goals for grade levels, and to determine learning gains and / or learning losses.”

Emmanuella Perez-Cassius, member of the Education Committee, asked questions about the ongoing contract negotiations to secure school bus traffic in the St. Croix district and whether the modules at St. Croix Central High School were being supplied with electricity.

Carlos McGregor, Superintendent of St. Croix, said, “All students in the St. Croix district who need bus transport have bus transport.” He said that a transformer must be installed to restore power to the modules do it before August 9th.

Ms. Perez-Cassius went back to the school bus situation in St. Croix. Carla Bastian, deputy superintendent of St. Croix, said she was banned from talking about the transportation problem because of the ongoing negotiations. However, DOE officials were confident that a contract will be ready by August 9th.

A contract for school bus transport in St. Thomas-St. John District, education officials revealed.

Mr. Callwood was trying to find out if there were “similarities” between St. Thomas-St. John and St. Croix Districts Regarding Reopening Plans. “We’ve spent many, many days planning together, so we have the same approaches,” said Smyra Dee-Brown, assistant superintendent of St. Thomas.

Ms. Perez-Cassius said July 30th had been set as the date when BOE officials would pass school in St. Thomas-St. John District and decide whether to approve the reopening on August 9th. She announced that August 2 was the date for St. Croix, but the date was challenged by Ms. Ottley-Herman, who said the St. Croix district leaders, principals, administrators and coordinators were unable to attend.

After going back and forth, Mr. Callwood said these discussions were being held privately and left a specific date for the St. Croix School Inspection unresolved by the BOE.

You can find more information about the school opening Here.

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