Schools with face-to-face classes to keep temp teachers

Regional

Schools with face-to-face classes to keep temp teachers

BY ANTHONY LEWIS
Observer writer

Thursday, January 14, 2021

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ORANGE BAY, Hanover — Director of the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information's Region Four, Dr Michelle Pinnock, says schools that are participating in the face-to-face resumption of classes are exempted from an earlier decision by the ministry to end the engagement of temporary teachers.

Last month, the education ministry had stated that it had made efforts to provide additional staffing support for schools for the 2020/2021 school year.

However, it later said that the reopening of schools did not go as planned due to the impact of the novel coronavirus pandemic, and as such, there was no need for the temporary teachers.

However, the regional director told the Jamaica Observer that schools which are returning to face-to-face classes will be allowed to keep the temporary teachers.

“Once they are going face-to-face, they are able to retain their teachers [even] if they were a part of the policy that the ministry had before,” stated Dr Pinnock.

The regional director, in explaining the concept behind the decision to engage temporary staff, said this was in anticipation of the resumption of face-to-face classes where some of the classes would be split, hence the need for more resources. However, she said some schools did not go face-to-face and so they did not need additional teachers.

Dr Pinnock was responding to concerns raised by Loreen Aljoe, principal of Rhodes Hall High School in Hanover, who told the Observer last week Monday that the decision to end the engagement of temporary staff in schools would have a negative impact on the schools' resumption of face-to-face classes.

Rhodes Hall High is one of 132 primary and secondary schools that the Ministry of Education had approved for the resumption of face-to-face classes, commencing last week.

At Rhodes Hall, students are being rotated between online and face-to-face classes due to the COVID-19 health protocols.

Aljoe had stated that the temporary staff would be needed now that students are attending classes utilising both online and face-to-face methods.

“I did not utilise my offering because we went online and we didn't need them, but now that we are back face-to-face, we are going to need them,” stated Aljoe.

She argued that while she understands the financial constraints of the Government, “I am going to need mine”.

However, Dr Pinnock stressed that schools, including Rhodes Hall High, that are going face-to-face have been granted an exemption.

The Rhodes Hall High principal, who noted that approximately 80 per cent of the student population of a little over 1,000 are without devices and therefore cannot access online classes, said she would have preferred if the Government did not shut down all schools in March.

To compound matters, Aljoe said, her school is yet to receive any of the promised tablet computers from the Government for students on the Programme of Advancement Through Health and Education (PATH). She said, however, that tablets for special needs students on the Alternative Pathway for Secondary Education (APSE) programme, which was in the possession of the school, were lent to these students.

In the meantime, eight more schools within Region four reopened their doors for face-to-face classes on Monday, bringing the number of schools to reopen in the western parishes of St James, Hanover and Westmoreland to 12 since the start of the new term.


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