State schools in Seychelles will open in phases for face-to-face class as of March 15, a top official said on Wednesday.
The reopening will see a group of students attending classes on alternate weeks. The schedule is aimed at reducing the density of students and minimising the spread of the COVID-19.
On Monday, March, 15, students going to crèche year one, primary two, primary four and primary six and secondary will start school.  The following day, March 16, students of secondary four and secondary five will also start school. This is a normal practice at secondary schools where level one students start school one day before allowing students to familiarize themselves with their new environment.
The week after the first group will remain at home except for secondary five students who will attend class all through as they are expected to sit for IGCSE examinations at the end of the year. Students who did not attend the first week — that is crèche year two, the primary one, three and five, secondary two and three — will then attend classes.
All health measures in place will be observed, students will be screened and wash hands before entering the school. The class will allow for ample distances between students. All students except for the smaller ones from Primary four to crèche will have to wear masks at all times.

All health measures in place will be observed, students will be screened and wash hands before entering the school. (Seychelles Nation) Photo License: CC-BY

Break times will also be in phases and students will also have to maintain social distance. The school will start at 8 am and will end at 2.30 pm.
The announcement of the state school’s resumption of face-to-face class two months after its initial date of January 18 was done by the Minister for Education in a press conference.
Justin Valentin said that physical classes have to resume despite the challenges the country is going through.
“It is more difficult than what we experienced in May last year, much more difficult but what is interesting is that we now have the experience, the experience that we went through last year and the experience will, of course, allow us to better relaunch the school,” explained the minister.
The minister added that the reopening of schools is being done after much consultations with key partners and in close collaboration with the Health Care Agency and the Public Health Authority.
Nicholas Shamlaye said that the Ministry of Education has very good Standard Operation Procedures (SOPs) and commanded the school management teams for their hard work in helping to contain the virus.  “During last year something positive we have seen is that school management was really in tune and we have seen significant work with school hygiene.”
Shamlaye urged all parents to keep their children at home if they are sick and display any COVID symptoms and seek medical advice as this will help with the national effort to contain community transmission.

Parents are urged to keep their children at home if they are sick and display any COVID symptoms. (Seychelles Nation) Photo License: CC-BY

When asked if students sitting for international exams will still go through with the examination at the end of the year, the minister said they will have from March to June to assess the readiness of students sitting for IGCSE.
Valentin explained that by June if the ministry feels that the students are not ready then it would be decided if students can sit their exams in May next year.
The principal secretary for Early Childhood, Primary and Secondary, Odile Decomarmond, added that the ministry has a database of staff that has taken their vaccinations – most have and are awaiting the second dose – and those who have not as well. She added that staff has the responsibility to at all times protect themselves and students from being infected with COVID-19. 

Source: Seychelles News Agency