Summer school on!


Summer school on!

... But students must observe social distancing, other protocols

Senior staff reporter

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

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THE education ministry has warned schools that there must be strict adherence to COVID-19 protocols to prevent the spread of the virus, as some institutions started summer schools yesterday.

Speaking with the Jamaica Observer yesterday, the ministry's director of corporate communications, Colin Steer, said all protocols that were in place in early June when senior students returned to school for refresher classes in preparation for upcoming external exams will apply for summer classes.

He said the classes were being held with the blessings of the Government, which, upon declaring all schools closed in March had indicated that under the Disaster Risk Management Act (Enforcement Measures) (No 6) Order 2020: Every educational institution, as defined in the Education Act, shall remain closed until the end of September 6, 2020. It further said, at the time, that schools will continue to operate using the emergency remote teaching approach, distance learning/homeschooling to ensure the continuation of the teaching and learning process.

“Cabinet had granted approval for summer schools to be held for the purposes of orientation for new students and for those who may be having some sort of remedial summer classes, ” Steer said.

This, Steer said, however, “would have to be done within the context of the COVID-19 protocols observations about social distancing and so forth”.

“I know in some cases, I can't speak for all, some schools have advertised for summer classes but they are limiting the number of students they would have. So approval has been granted,” he said, adding that schools needing clarification should contact the ministry for further guidance as to how to proceed.

Yesterday, Jamaica Teachers' Association (JTA) President Owen Speid urged all involved to proceed, but with caution.

“If you look at the number of cases [of the virus] coming in, you find that the numbers are indicating that there is not much community spread; whether it is true or false, I think there is a reduction in the level of fear that was there a couple of months ago. So on that count we would like to say to our staff, our schools, our parents, our children, that they should not become complacent because we don't want a resurgence of the virus,” he told the Observer.

The JTA, said Speid, was not opposed to the classes being held.

“As long as they comply with the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Education's regulations, then we don't have an issue. We are here to support our members — the teachers, the principals and schools — in trying to give quality service to their clients who are the children of this country; so we are okay with them doing it as long as they abide by the regulations,” Speid said.

“As long as the Ministry of Health is comfortable then the JTA cannot overrule it. We are just here to support the schools and their staff because, especially the new children who are coming into the schools; they need that kind of orientation before you have the real big reopening in September. They need that kind of orientation in the new setting,” said Speid.

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