Phased reopening of schools to be guided by risk ranking

Phased reopening of schools to be guided by risk ranking

Friday, September 18, 2020

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KINGSTON, Jamaica — Minister of Education, Youth and Information, Fayval Williams today met with the E-COVID Management Task Force where she outlined plans for a phased reopening of schools starting on October 5 based on a vulnerability index and risk ranking measure.

During the meeting, the minister assured members of the task force that the ministry has already allocated funds to schools since June for their back-to-school reopening programme and stands ready to revisit additional requests related to COVID-19 protocols.

According to the ministry, to date, infant schools and early childhood institutions have been allocated $24.9 million; primary schools were allocated just over $577 million and secondary schools $3.4 billion.

Minister Williams said the ministry was assessing schools based on geoinformatics, demographic and health data and noted that the plan is to develop a vulnerability index using a risk ranking approach that will inform the phased reopening of schools.

She said the ministry was being guided by a range of factors used to determine vulnerability profiles of the communities in which the schools are located including:

  • Risk ranking of communities;
  • The Ministry of Health and Wellness' inspection report – COVID-19 protocol readiness;
  • State of the physical infrastructure;
  • Adequacy of teaching and support staff; and
  • Quality of internet connectivity for the blended approach.

The ministry noted further that the plan will include varied approaches to include full face-to-face class engagement; a hybrid (face-to-face and remote learning) and full remote learning.

“We are not in normal times and the Ministry is being very deliberate in its approach to ensure that students, teachers, administrators and support staff are operating in safety,” the minister explained.

Minister of State, Robert Morgan underscored the importance of collaboration among education stakeholders.

“We are trying to get the experts to assess the efficacy of this approach. No individual group can solve this problem by themselves. For this to work, we will require unprecedented levels of cooperation and collaboration to allow for the two-way flow of communication,” he said.

Other concerns raised during the meeting include the management of the COVID-19 disease islandwide with specific reference to the school population, access to internet services and distribution of tablets.

The ministry said the taskforce will continue to collaborate as we seek to provide the best opportunity for the education of our students.

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