COVID-19 protocols being employed at early childhood centre in St. Kitts. (Photo by Education Media Unit)

BASSETERRE, St. Kitts — Prime Minister Dr. the Honourable Timothy Harris says his Government intends to use the planned reopening of schools in early September as a measuring stick as to how well St. Kitts and Nevis is prepared to handle the inflows of visitors to its shores when the borders are reopened in October.

Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Education, Mr. William Vincent Hodge, revealed that schools are expected to reopen on Monday, September 7, with a virtual opening ceremony. The dates of September 7 and 8 are reserved for teachers to convene their various meetings in schools. Then on Wednesday, September 9 students will return to classes.

“Our organization and reopening of the education sector, for me, is a big test – a big test of our systems, a big test of our ability to deal with large crowds because we are talking about 12,000 plus persons participating in educational settings,” said HE Dr. Harris. “If we can do this successfully, then I believe we would have reached a substantial way in our ability to treat and to deal with the tourists who will come when we finally reopen up all sectors of our country.”

The prime minister said he is comforted by the fact that in St. Kitts and Nevis, there are competent individuals to lead the charge in the safe reopening of schools.

Prime Minister Harris said his government will continue to employ its all-of-society approach to COVID-19 and the opening up of all sectors of the economy.

“That is why it is important, even as we go about introducing new measures, reforms of the education sector and other sectors of the economy, we are bringing all critical stakeholders on board,” said Dr. Harris.

The prime minister said he hopes the Ministry of Education will have a productive and successful new academic term, but noted that this success largely hinges on the contributions and input of parents and guardians.

“Parents and adults can contribute tremendously,” said Dr. Harris. “First, they should advise themselves of what are the new imperatives. Second, by encouraging their [children] to comply with them and to give the incentives that would help the students to adapt quickly to the new environment.”

The early childhood sector recommenced operations this week with 14 government-run early childhood centres and five privately-owned centres opening their doors.

The early childhood sector, primary, secondary and tertiary learning institutions, were closed in March as an early measure to protect the nation’s students from contracting the coronavirus.