OCHO RIOS, St. Ann – Some schools here in St. Ann that have been approved for classroom teaching have delayed reopening as the number of coronavirus cases in the community has risen again.
Education Minister Fayval Williams, according to estimates from officials from the Department of Education and the Department of Health and Wellness, gave some schools the go-ahead to resume classroom teaching in order to effectively prepare students for this year’s final exams, which include the Caribbean Secondary Certificate (CSEC), City and guilds, Caribbean Advanced Exams (CAPE), National Council on Technical and Professional Education and Training (NCTVET) and the Primary Exit Profile (PEP).
Brown’s Town High School, which was due to reopen today, notified parents and students on Jan. 14 that physical education classes will be suspended until it is safe.
This decision was made shortly after the Minister of Health Dr. Christopher Tufton announced last week that the community has the highest rate for the spread of the virus on the island.
Ocho Rios High School principal Marvin Clowson said although his school meets standard safety guidelines required by the Department of Education and the facility is ready to resume classes, the school would not move until after the number of COVID-19 cases, the school would decline. However, based on the latest data on the virus, the start date for physical lessons is checked by the school administration.
“We have the privilege, as the board of directors and management, to ensure that while an opportunity presents itself, we consider our individual situation. We were ready to reopen; After discussing and examining the number of Christmas break cases, the large cohort of 11th grade students, and the number of parishes they come from, we decided not to allow our students to enter on January 4th. ” he said.
“Now we have discussed again as a team whether we should bring them out on Monday (today). However, based on the report from the Department of Health and Wellness, we decided to further evaluate the situation before resuming classes, ”Clowson told the Jamaica Observer.
Other schools said they are reconsidering plans to reopen as they learn more about the virus.
York Castle High School Director Raymond Treasure said the parents have been consulted regarding the start of classes and the decision to continue with classes remains, but this has not been finalized.
Brown’s Town Community College has been using the mixed format since the summer of 2020 to teach hands-on lab components so that students can be fully immersed in their program.
During this uncertain time, Headmistress Claudeth Haughton said she was fully prepared to submit to keep students and staff safe.
“Our locations have also been made accessible to students who have limited or no technological resources at home. The minimal personal approach was continued through the beginning of the calendar year to provide better support for the learning programs in preparing for upcoming exams. Should the college have to rely entirely on online courses, we have all the facilities to be more flexible in delivering synchronous and asynchronous sessions, ”said Haughton.
For Joy Gray, a parent of a CSEC student attending Brown’s Town High School, the available internet connection was still not good enough as her child continues to struggle with definitive projects and classes.
Gray said she was disappointed after learning that her classes had been canceled for a child she believes is slow learning.
“… It’s definitely a challenge because we don’t have real internet access. Sometimes she has to take to the streets to get a little coverage. and most of the time the connection is bad. If she was in school it would work better because she could ask questions of the teacher and interact with her classmates [and] They could have their study groups so not being in school is a problem, ”she said.
The Ministry of Health has meanwhile asked residents to adhere to protocols to contain the spread of the virus. According to St. Ann’s health officer, Dr. Tamika Henry, the isolation unit at St. Ann’s Bay Hospital was 68 percent full on Jan. 14.
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