Principals eager to resume face-to-face learning
Some principals of primary and infant schools in North Western St Catherine, who are yet to be given the nod to restart face-to-face learning, are anxiously awaiting approval from the Ministry of Education to do so.
The schools that have been conducting sanitisation exercises and other preparations ordered by the Ministry of Health and Wellness before face-to-face teaching and learning can commence are Cassava River Primary and Infant, Grateful Hill Primary and Infant, Harewood Primary and Infant, Berry Hill Primary and Infant, and the New Mt Industry Primary and Infant.
While some of them had to resort to virtual learning since the coronavirus pandemic hit Jamaica, the lack of proper Internet and Wi-Fi connectivity in the areas where they are located has greatly affected their programmes.
The principals are now claiming that they have largely adhered to the guidelines mandated by the Ministry of Health and are now ready for students and teachers to return to the physical classrooms.
Principal of the Cassava River Primary and Infant School, Roogae Kirlew, told The Gleaner that he is in the final stages of implementing sanitisation requirements and will be ready to resume on February 1.
“At Cassava River, we are almost complete furnishing the isolation room. All that is needed now is repainting and the provision of gowns. We also need to change about six toilet seats in the students’ bathrooms,” Kirlew said.
“Debushing beyond the perimeter fencing, a task that the school was required to carry out, is also complete,” he added.
Kirlew said one major issue involving a section of the ceiling, which is the responsibility of the Ministry of Education, is yet to be addressed.
“The ceiling on the grade six block needs to be repaired. However, the ministry is aware of this and has promised to have the matter sorted out expeditiously,” he stated.
Kirlew said virtual learning, in which students are presently engaged, is reaching about 70 per cent of the 270 students on roll, but many are having Internet challenges and, in some cases, inconsistency with devices that have to be shared with other members of the household, and this is impacting on the students’ ability to give their best performance.
LACK OF INTERNET
Principal of Berry Hill Primary and Infant School, Duwayne Johnson, in the meantime, said he has not been able to conduct virtual teaching and learning because of the lack of Internet and Wi-Fi connectivity in the deep-rural part of the parish where the school is situated.
“The students have to reply on printed material that they are required to pick up at school, and even this has to be scaled back because of the cost associated with it,” he revealed.
“We have completed all the tasks that were mandated by the Ministry (of Education) and are ready to resume face-to-face interaction. Our isolation area is ready, we have established handwashing stations, put in sanitising dispensers in all classrooms and other areas, as well as created the space with markings for social distancing,” Johnson told The Gleaner.
“Being away from the classroom has not only affected our grade six programme, but the school’s literacy programme as a whole,” Johnson said.
He added that the St Catherine Health Department has given the green light for the school to resume face-to-face teaching and learning, and he now eagerly awaits the ministry’s approval.