Mon | Jan 17, 2022

Students out west express mixed views on face-to-face classes

Published:Tuesday | August 31, 2021 | 12:06 AMAshley Anguin/Gleaner Writer
Nurse Spencer (Westmorland Health Department) administers the Pfizer Biontech vaccine to Anthony Beckford, a sixth form student from Mannings High School on August 24 at the Mannings High School in Westmoreland.


As the debate continues to rage as to whether or not unvaccinated students should be barred from face-to-face classes when the new school year starts, students in western Jamaica are expressing mixed views on what is emerging as a contentious issue.

Tydon Bowen, a third-year student at The University of the West Indies (Mona), which has made it mandatory for students living on campus to be vaccinated, said he supports the measures being advanced.

“I am in full support of the university’s decision. Living on campus is a shared environment where we all have to share bathrooms, kitchens, and even rooms. I believe it is safer for us to be vaccinated at this point. I was a bit concerned about being vaccinated, and even last week, I was still uncertain about it,” said Bowen.

“I am the only one from my circle of friends who has not been vaccinated. I am definitely going to get the vaccine now because of the release by the university,” he added.

Bowen, who is from Westmoreland, said he has no choice but to stay on campus, so it means that he will have to get vaccinated. He said persons who have no desire to get vaccinated should make plans to live off-campus.

Like Bowen, Anthony Beckford, a sixth-form student at Manning School in Westmoreland, told The Gleaner that he believes the vaccine is necessary at this time.“I am taking the vaccine because as a student who has not been in the classroom for almost two years, I cannot do it anymore,” said Beckford. “Face-to-face learning is far more effective than online learning. Education is very important, and not being in the class is having a negative impact on us as students.”However, Brian Campbell, a student at the Caribbean Maritime University, said he is fearful of the vaccine and is not inclined to take it.“I’m actually terrified about the vaccine. This is my body we are talking about, and yes, I’m aware that there have been vaccines way before this. However, I don’t feel comfortable with the time frame the vaccine was developed, and seeing that governments are trying to pay people or giving incentives to take it makes me even more sceptical,” said Campbell. “I also believe their attempt to get students vaccinated is a bit forced.”“Everyone is not comfortable with taking it, and in addition, not everyone can learn on an online-based system. My question is, is the Government going to dismiss every student’s right to a proper education because of their choice not to take the vaccine? If so, then that is absurd to me,” added Campbell.

Another UWI student, who asked not to be identified, said he was fully expecting the suggested measure, but he has still not decided whether or not he should take the vaccine.

“Are we even surprised?” the student asked. “I knew this was going to come any day now. The talk about preferential treatment to vaccinated people was the first sign. The world is in panic mode, and especially here in Jamaica, where cases are rising hourly, it was bound to happen.”

“The University of the West Indies is a private entity, so they are free to do as they please and make their rules. It is up to the students to know whether or not they want to live on campus,” he added.