Primary School complying with S.O.E. rules

Samoa Primary School has allayed reports it is not practicing social distancing rules, saying they have the capacity and resources to put it into practise.

The privately-owned school’s Co-Principal, Pa’ū Iakopo, told Samoa Observer that they are already complying with the Ministry of Education Sports and Culture (M.E.S.C.) regulations on social distancing during the state of emergency (S.O.E.) period.

She said since the 4th of May, students doing Years 2, 4, 6 and 8 go to classes on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays and those enrolled in Years 1, 3, 5 and 7 are in school on Thursdays and Fridays.

"We are actually following the Government's S.O.E. but also answering a need and we are using our discretion. For example, a family of three children may have different school days,” she said in an interview.

“The school has a responsibility to the others meant to stay at home while the other child goes to class. We cannot be responsible for having parents go to work and leave a five or seven-year-old at home.”

According to Mrs. Iakopo, the only other time students from other classes are on school premises on their non-class days is when the parents cannot leave them at home, as their siblings are in classes.

"But the only reason why we have students from the other classes is that the parents who have paid fees for the whole term and whole year, have come in and asked if we can take their children because they cannot leave them at home.

"And they don't want to pay extra to have someone look after their children and that's the reason why we have some kids [on days they do not have classes]."

Mrs. Iakopo stressed that her school is well prepared to practise social distancing, and has the capacity to adapt to changes when class schedules are revised to integrate social distancing in the normal hours (including having two separate lunch hours).

The school also has a rigorous hygiene and sanitation policy, she added, where the washing of hands upon entering and exiting classrooms is encouraged and enforced.

The school roll has more than 400 students but since the return of classes only half of the students have attended, revealed Mrs. Iakopo.

"We haven't gotten our full numbers day in and day out because on Thursday when Year 1, 3, 5 and 7 are supposed to come in, those classes are not full. And because by Thursday, Friday, it is the end of the week and by then, the kids are too tired. These kids need attention the most, they should be the classes with more school days."

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