Fri | Jul 10, 2020

Schools get ready for exam refreshers

Published:Wednesday | June 3, 2020 | 12:00 AMJudana Murphy/Gleaner Writer

CLASSROOMS CRAMMED with up to 40 students will be a rare sight at secondary schools across Jamaica come June 8.

Visits to schools across the Corporate Area where preparations are under way to facilitate exam refreshers showed classrooms that would normally seat 35 students now reorganised to accommodate nine.

School floors have been covered with new markings, six feet apart, and walls with signs as handwashing become a novel part of the school routine.

The adjustments come into effect as part of social-distancing and sanitisation protocols to limit the potential of spread of the coronavirus disease. Schools were ordered closed on March 13 and students have largely been relying on online classes since then.

After more than two months of being cooped up at home, students sitting external exams will have prep sittings from next Monday until July 3.

Principal of Wolmer’s Boys’ School, Dwight Pennycooke, said that although all classrooms have been sanitised, the larger and more ventilated classrooms will be mainly used.

Wolmer’s will be operating on three shifts– 8 a.m.-10 a.m.; 11 a.m.-12 p.m.; and 12:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m.

“We are not going to have a situation where we have more than 200 students on the compound at any time,” he disclosed, adding that no more than six teachers will be present for each shift.

Additional mathematics and Spanish are the only subjects the principal has concerns about at this time.

GOOD POSITION

For the four-week refresher period, students will have more timetabled sessions to make up for missed contact hours and to better prepare for oral exams.

“We are in a good position. We just want to ensure that we rev up our young men again and mitigate whatever regression that would have taken place, and so we should be in a very good place once we are through with them by the third of July,” said Pennycooke.

At Holy Trinity High School, maintenance workers were busy mounting dispensers, hosing down classrooms, and putting away excess furniture in storage.

Vice-Principal Beneze Barker Dunn said there are 215 examination candidates, with the largest subject batch being 57 students.

“The Ministry of Health will be here tomorrow to conduct their assessment, but we have been talking by phone and the relevant staff have attended the online training sessions to discuss the protocols,” she said.

The school’s tuck shop will be used instead of the canteen to minimise contact. Staff and students have also been asked to take along meals, where possible.

Classes at Kingston Technical High School will begin with orientation about the new practices and expectations of students and teachers.

“We are using a staggered system and we will begin with the classes with the smallest number of students,”said principal Maulton Campbell, adding that sessions will begin at 9 a.m.

Space is not an issue for the institution, as the school spans two locations connected by an overhead bridge.

Campbell said that assessments will be conducted daily and protocols modified as time progresses.

judana.murphy@gleanerjm.com