All primary schools get reopen nod
High schools with 65 per cent or more vaccination also to resume face-to-face classesWednesday, December 01, 2021
BY ALPHEA SUMNER
THE Government has now given all primary schools the go-ahead to return to face-to-face learning, as well as all secondary schools which have a 65 per cent or higher vaccination rate among students.
Education Minister Fayval Williams made the announcement in the House of Representatives yesterday.
The 383 primary schools in this second phase of face-to-face reopening are being allowed to determine their start-up dates, in collaboration with parents. This brings to 759 the number of public primary schools approved for face-to-face learning. They will use a blended approach — online learning and at least two days of face-to face classes. This phase will account for 164,000 more primary school students returning to the classroom.
Early last month, the ministry approved the reopening of an initial 379 smaller primary schools, starting November 8. It also allowed 56,000 of the 206,635 secondary school students to return, in preparation for exit exams.
Williams stressed yesterday that all schools must use the blended, rotational approach, and pass the Ministry of Health's COVID-19 compliance inspection.
She told the House that 60 per cent of the secondary school target population have received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine, and that 24 per cent are fully vaccinated.
The minister noted that enough vaccines are now available to give this cohort both doses.
“Schools have forms for students to pre-register for their vaccination, the forms have spaces for parents to give their consent if they cannot accompany their children to the vaccination site [and] principals are expected to call the parents to verify and document this on the registration form. Principals can also ask the parents to send verification via WhatsApp or e-mail of their consent, this is to ensure that there are no liability issues,” the minister said.
Additionally, the rural transportation service is to be reactivated to assist close to 7,500 students on the Programme of Advancement Through Health and Education, and other needy students from 250 primary and high schools across 13 parishes.
Williams said the education ministry will ramp up its partnership with the Jamaica Urban Transit Company to accommodate students in Kingston and St Andrew, St Catherine, and certain corridors in St Thomas, and Clarendon.
The student passenger rail service is also to be revived from Old Harbour and Linstead to Spanish Town in St Catherine. At least 400 students are to benefit from the service daily, the minister said.
Meanwhile, she said in the first week of face-to face resumption (November 8-12) 248 of the 376 primary schools that were approved opened and recorded an average attendance of 33,158 out of approximately 50,000 students, or roughly 66 per cent.
In the second week, 410 schools opened, including stand-alone infant schools, with an average attendance of 40,147, or 80 per cent. The education minister advised that five cases of COVID-19 and two suspected cases among teachers have been reported.