Sun | Dec 5, 2021

Education with a personal touch, COVID-19 style

Published:Sunday | May 17, 2020 | 8:21 AMChristopher Thomas/Gleaner Writer

WESTERN BUREAU:

WITH LIMITED Internet access to support their efforts, Camille Davis-Williams, principal of St Paul’s Primary School in Westmoreland, and her staff, have decided to add a special touch to their mandate to their students by personally delivering schoolwork to them at their homes.

Davis-Williams, who also functions as the school’s grade-six teacher, told The Gleaner that the delivery of materials, which has been ongoing since March 13, became necessary because of the far distance some students live from the school.

“Everybody tried to do the online distance learning, and we got some students online, especially at grades one, two and four, but the parents realised that phone data costs a lot and the phones were always crashing, because there were too many items on the phones. We therefore decided to push harder with distributing our study kits to the homes,” Davis-Williams explained.

“The school community is not really close, because we have students from Spring Garden, Retreat, New Hope, and other areas, and the school is near the canefield between Little London and Sheffield. We really don’t have the students living within the area itself, so in order to facilitate those who are far out, these are some of the things we have to do,” Davis-Williams said.

DIFFICULTY

The difficulty faced by some students, especially in rural Jamaica, to access their schoolwork online due to lack of Internet service, has led to Jamaica Teachers’ Association President Owen Speid calling for online teaching to be suspended because of the disparity in accessibility.

However, for Davis-Williams and her colleagues, they are not prepared to allow the absence of Internet service to negatively impact their students, hence their decision to personally deliver the study kits to the students’ homes on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. They also collaborate with parents who have their own transportation to collect the kits at designated pickup spots.

“When I can’t reach one side of the community, I would have to ask a parent who rides a bike to come to the school and take the kits to all the students who are on that side of the community,” said Davis-Williams.

“I really have to commend the parents who make the effort to make sure the work is done. We mark the work and do the corrections, and we call to ensure the work is done,” added Davis-Williams.