Back to basics
School leaders, students excited about resumption of face-to-face classesThursday, October 28, 2021
BY BRITTNY HUTCHINSON
The joy at being back in classrooms was patently obvious on the faces of children and educators at some infant schools in the Corporate Area on Tuesday, four days after the education ministry announced a phased resumption of face-to-face classes at primary and infant schools.
“I like being here because then I can see Gabrielle properly without swiping on my tablet screen,” five-year-old John-Michael Lopez Henry, a student at Webster Memorial Basic School, told the Jamaica Observer.
His reference was to five-year-old Gabrielle Stevens, who said, “I prefer coming here because I get to have fun and to go outside to play.”
At Rosedale Basic School four-year-old Khloe Williams was ecstatic.
“I feel good coming back. I like school,” she told the Observer.
Her schoolmate, three-year-old Madison Taylor, was equally elated. “I want to come back again,” she said.
Five-year-old Abigail Campbell expressed her delight simply: “I like my school and my friends are nice,” she said.
School life had indeed returned to some semblance of normalcy.
At Webster Memorial some students were engrossed in colouring pictures in their textbooks, while others delved into snacks.
“It was very necessary for the children,” Principal Kay-Ann Russell Temple said in reference to the face-to-face resumption of classes. “When you are in this space, you are able to see everyone, and everybody gets a chance to socialise. Now you can see their body language to tell if they are not doing well, or having a great time. So while we are not able to hug and give out good morning greetings, which is something I personally miss, we give elbow bumps.”
Russell Temple said the school still utilises the blended approach (online and face-to-face classes) to learning. One group of students are in the classrooms on Mondays and Tuesdays, another group attends on Thursdays and Fridays, while a third group has virtual lessons.
“On average we have about 40 students. Right now we have three teachers teaching online and the other three are downstairs. Two spaces are used to accommodate one class,” she explained.
At Rosedale Basic School the classrooms were occupied by small groups of pupils.
Principal Kerise Kelly said that while she is elated to have students in the face-to-face setting, there are financial problems.
“Our schools are still struggling. These protocols make it difficult for us to operate economically. However, physical school is still different because of the new protocols but we are excited to be out. We missed this,” she said.
Kelly also explained that there should be 10 students per class, but parents are still hesitant to send out their children. Instead, there are about seven students in each class.
Meanwhile, educators at Maverley Primary and Infant School are still in preparation mode to accommodate students physically.
“Each class has its own room and we have already adjusted the benches to hold about no more than 10 students in any classroom. Each room is suited out with its own sanitiser, dispensers, and paper towels and all the things that the children would need,” said Principal Dorothy Taylor.
“The pandemic has put a big dent in our life and I am very concerned about the future of our children... we have to look at children getting counselling and other sorts of help for development,” she added.
Nigel Francis, principal at RJR Basic School, expressed similar sentiments, noting that much will be done to fill the learning gaps.
“We are always in the preparation stage. It is a good thing [face-to-face school] and the teachers are better able to deal with children in a better way. We are anticipating that we will play catch up to ensure students successfully complete this term,” he said.
When the Observer went to other basic schools in the Corporate Area employees were seen preparing for reopening. Others, though, remained closed.