Thu | Feb 2, 2023

Portland parents ready for face-to-face classes

Published:Saturday | November 7, 2020 | 12:12 AMGareth Davis/Gleaner Writer

Parents of Tranquility Primary and Infant School would be disappointed to hear that their school has opted out of the two week face-to-face pilot by the Ministry of Education which is set to begin on Monday.

The parents of Tranquility Primary and Infant and Moore Town Primary schools had given the thumbs up to the reopening of two Portland schools earlier this week.

However, Tranquility Primary and Infant School has declined the proposal to reopen.

Parents on Wednesday said online learning poses serious challenges for students living in deep rural communities, who are unable to access the Internet adequately, which is further compounded by the high cost of purchasing data service.

Additionally, parents/guardians, including Sheryl Spence from Moore Town in the Rio Grande Valley of East Portland and Gary Richards and Patricia Richards of Tranquility district in the Buff Bay Valley of West Portland, shared similar sentiments that their children were not fully grasping the online teaching.

“My son has not retained anything that he had learned while in Grade One,” said Spence.

“Since the closure of schools because of the coronavirus, my son has not learned or improved in any way as it relates to online teaching/learning. He has fallen back so far that I was becoming increasingly worried. I have done my part as a parent by spending time with him, but he is simply not focusing.

She added: “It is a timely move on the part of the Ministry of Education to at least reopen the Moore Town school, which I am happy about, as I am convinced that, not just my son, but also other students, tends to learn better in a face-to-face setting. I will ensure that my six-year-old son travels with his hand sanitiser and face mask. He already knows the importance of maintaining social distance,” she added.

The Moore Town school has a teaching population of six teachers plus a principal and a guidance counsellor, along with a student population of approximately 90.

Meanwhile, in the district of Tranquility, there are complaints from parents stating the challenges in accessing the Internet/online platform, as signals from the Internet providers keep dropping, which prevents students from connecting to online classes.

“I am happy that school is reopening soon, as some of us parents have been spending a lot on purchasing phone credit to access the Internet,” said Gary Richards, who has a niece attending Tranquility Primary and Infant School. “There is, however, the fear that students and teachers travelling from long distances might become exposed to the coronavirus, which doesn’t augur well for the school. Other than that, this is a remote community where we have no reports of any COVID-19 case,” he concluded.

And for Patricia Richards, she is overjoyed that students will be returning to school in a face-to-face setting, after they have been forced to stay home for the better part of six months.

“We have had students coming to my house just to access Wi-Fi, as they are unable to do so on their phones from home, “she said.

“I ensure that they maintain the social distance of six feet and that face masks are worn at all times. I also provide them with hand sanitisers. It has been a difficult time for parents who, with all fairness, really try to assist their children with the online learning. But the truth is that access to the Internet is a challenge in this area of the Buff Bay valley.

“Therefore, I am truly happy that school is reopening and that we as parents can now breathe a sigh of relief that finally our children are returning to the classroom.”