Salem Primary and Junior High hailed as model school in observing COVID-19 protocols

Salem Primary and Junior High hailed as model school in observing COVID-19 protocols

Tuesday, January 26, 2021

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THE Salem Primary and Junior High School in Beeston Spring, Westmoreland, has been hailed by the parish's health department as a model institution in observing the coronavirus (COVID-19) protocols.

The institution resumed face-to-face classes on January 11 under strict COVID-19 guideless outlined by the Ministry of Health and Wellness, and has been going the extra mile to ensure the safety of students and staff.

Health promotion and education officer at the Westmoreland Health Department Gerald Miller, who has been conducting public education sessions at schools opened for face-to-face learning in the parish, told JIS News that the administration at Salem Primary and Junior High School has been doing an exemplary job in executing the COVID-19 protocols.

“When I went to Salem, I was very impressed with what I saw there in terms of the organisation and how the protocols are being carried out. You could see the coordination between the principal and the guidance counsellor… they had their wash stations, the students were queuing up based on the protocols and there was a teacher to ensure that these things take place,” he said.

Principal of the institution Tanisha Ford-Farquharson said a collaborative approach was being employed by the teaching and ancillary staff to protect the school population against COVID-19.

She said that the temperature of students and staff are checked at the gates every morning, and a second check is done in the afternoon and the readings logged.

“We basically work together as a team…to ensure that everyone is safe who comes here. So we've put in all the protocols, we've ensured that hand-wash stations are in place, we have sanitisation stations at strategic points right across the school, the isolation room is in place, and we also ensure that we have our sick bay and everything is up to standard,” she said.

The classrooms have also been rearranged to facilitate social distancing while desk and chairs are sanitised during break and lunch sessions.

“The students are allowed to wash their hands before they go for break and while they are washing their hands, their classrooms are being sanitised by our cleaners. They come back to a clean desk to have their (snack) or to have their lunch and when they are finished eating, it is also sanitised again,” Ford-Farquharson said.

“Right after lunch we have a mask change because we want to ensure that the students are not wearing the same mask for the entire day, so we allow them to do the mask change, which is done at designated locations on the outside. Each class knows their location so they go and do the mask change and then get back to their classes. We also have a mask beak at 2 o'clock to give them some air to breathe,” she added.

Meanwhile, Ford-Farquharson said there has been an increase in the number of students attending classes since the resumption of face-to-face learning.

“I am happy for the students because we had low turnout [for online classes] because the Internet is a great issue in the community,” she noted.

The students are happy to return to school and do not mind the strict COVID-19 guidelines.

Grade six student Roshae Smith said she has been adhering to the protocols in order to stay safe. “Although we can't 'bundle-up' like we used to, it feels okay, because we are in face-to-face class where we have a better understanding of things,” she said.

For Nicoli Lowers, who is also in grade six, it was a joy to be able to reunite with his friends after being away from the classroom for 10 months.

“[With] face-to-face I can see my friends… I like face-to-face because I get to understand the work more and I get to be more comfortable at school,” he noted.

Guidance counsellor at the institution Sophia Mullings, at the same time, said sessions are being held with students “to help them with the transitioning back to school” as well as to reinforce the COVID-19 protocols.

She noted that the institution was also placing emphasis on safeguarding the mental health of students and staff, who have returned to school.

“I work with the entire school staff to provide psychosocial support for the community, my teachers, the students and other workers here at school… I go to classes, I welcome them [students] back and I find out how they are coping,” she said.

There are 96 students enrolled at Salem Primary and Junior High.

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