Distancing concerns


THREE teachers at Gerehu Primary School in Port Moresby are concerned about how social distancing will be maintained in classrooms when schools resume on May 4.
Grade 5 teacher Edwin Kia told The National that each class in the school had more than 45 students and classrooms were small.
“Most schools are overcrowded and we are concerned about our (teachers) wellbeing as well as the students’, especially when we do not know who they’ve been in contact with before and during the state of emergency (SOE),” he said.
Kia said Government support would be needed in ensuring that appropriate health measures were taken to prevent a Covid-19 outbreak.
Grade 7 teacher Mathew Leo said controlling little children and encouraging them to stay away from each other would be difficult.
“We can arrange to schedule classes so that we control the number of children in classes, but that decision is up to the Government.”
Leo called on the Government to assist schools in ensuring that students and teachers’ health were not compromised.
Grade 4 teacher Tore Isaac said teachers did not have much say on the Government’s decision to resume classes.
“Yes, we are worried about our health and the wellbeing of our students, but we will do what the Government says,” he said.
“We were born to teach our children till we die.”
In response to the concerns raised, Education Minister Joseph Yopyyopy told The National shift-teaching would be considered where some students could go in the morning while others after lunch.
He admitted that overcrowding was an issue faced by schools all over the country.
“We did not expect this (Covid-19) to come our way but our officers are working to look at ways to (address issues with overcrowding),” he said.
Yopyyopy also said grade 10 written expression examination scheduled for June 4 was deferred to June 18.
Yopyyopy said dates for all other examinations for grade 8, grade 10, and grade 12 would not change.
“All lost hours must be recovered before the end of term 3, so students will have learnt all required unit and are ready for national examinations in October, term 4.”