The Department of Education, Innovation and Gender Relations, during a recent press conference, indicated that many factors were considered in the decision to reopen schools.
One such factor, according to the Minister for Education Hon. Dr. Gale Rigobert, was the overall well-being of students.
“One of the issues we struggled with when we were previously forced to close schools and among the issues we have had to consider with respect to the reopening of schools, was the nutritional support that many students benefit from while in school. This means that when they are out of school, we cannot guarantee that they are getting the requisite age-appropriate nutritional support. Further, although it is an unsavory topic, for many of our children school is the only safe space that they know, and our school counselors were keen to ensure that we can bring those students back into schools.”
Dr. Rigobert added that a new school feeding policy had been adopted.
“We recognized that the school feeding programme was implemented only at the primary school level, and the question was asked very often whether there was an automatic change in the economic circumstance of a child’s family when he or she moved on to secondary school. So over the last two or three years we started with a pilot feeding program in secondary schools, and over time we were able to include more participating schools. I am elated to say that we are now informed by a scientific technical school feeding policy which means that in partnership with the Ministry of Health, we have been able to speak to the nutritional content of meals and have addressed the issue of added sugars.”
The Department of Education is now considering the expansion of the school feeding programme to include students who, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, may now require support.