“I declare that this school year will be the best school year ever, in the BVI!”
This was the declaration made by Premier Andrew Fahie, as he encouraged students and teachers to deliver their best work throughout this academic year despite the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Premier was speaking at the annual back-to-school church service, held Sunday, September 20. The ceremony was physically attended by few speakers, performers and government leaders, but virtually, some seven thousand viewers attended to seek God’s guidance for the year ahead.
Referring to the famous Bible verse, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me,” Premier Fahie urged parents and teachers to focus on the positive things the COVID-19 pandemic has brought.
“The truth of the matter is COVID-19 has taught all of us that we can get more things done in a different way if we only believe. You’re gonna have troubles this term but the troubles are not for you to give up, the troubles are for you to persevere because you can do all things through Christ,” Fahie said.
Put it in God’s Hands
The 2020/2021 school year will be unlike any students and parents around the world have ever seen.
For students, virtual learning will be as prominent as in-person learning while parents will be forced to become assistant teachers while their children learn from home.
In the BVI, parents are no different from those in other countries, facing job losses, economic uncertainty and the added task of assisting with the formal education of their children.
Education Minister Dr Natalio Wheatley highlighted some of the challenges facing many BVI parents as they prepare to send their children back to school.
“We have parents out there, they don’t have somebody to watch their children, some lost their jobs, they don’t have money to buy textbooks, worried about buying school uniforms. The parents, with so much anxiety and so much worry, I’m saying put it in God’s hands,” Dr Wheatley said.
He also urged the educators to look beyond the problems within the education system and put them “in God’s hands”.
“As a Minister, I don’t even pretend to have all the answers. I know sometimes it seems like an impossible task. All the problems we have with space in the schools, we don’t have enough devices, we don’t have the internet access. We just have to put those things in God’s hands and He will make a way.”
He continued: “I’ll say to the principals as well — all of the challenges we have in the school system, all the challenges we have among our teachers and students; maybe there’s some maintenance that needs to be done in schools … we just have to put it in God’s hands.”
On September 18, the government approved the reopening of all private schools, daycare centres, pre-schools and colleges, once they’ve been inspected by the Social Distance Monitoring Task Force and approved by the Ministry of Education.
Some public school students, namely technical education students, students with special needs, marginalised students, and adult education students have also been approved to attend in-person classes.
The Chief Education Officer will decide on the students that fall into these categories.
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