Students elated by return of face-to-face classesTuesday, May 11, 2021
BY JASON CROSS
St Aloysius Primary students Nichola Morna and Abrinna Brown yesterday expressed joy at being back at school as face-to-face classes for exit exam students resumed at more then 500 schools across the island.
“I am excited because the online classes don't work that much for me, as some of us have Internet problems, so it is really good to be back at school,” said Nichola, who has ambitions of attending Campion College or Wolmer's High School for Girls after completing the Primary Exit Profile (PEP).
Abrinna joined her schoolmate, telling the Jamaica Observer: “Being back is nerve-racking, but I feel nice to be able to see persons. Online wasn't difficult, but I only used to see my grandmother's face.”
The Government last week announced the resumption of face-to-face classes to facilitate last-minute preparations for this year's sitting of PEP for primary school students, and the Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) and Caribbean Advance Proficiency Examinations (CAPE) as well as City & Guilds papers for high school students.
Face-to-face classes were suspended in March this year as part of new measures to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus. The measure was first implemented in March 2020, when the first case of COVID-19 was confirmed in the island, with instruction continuing remotely.
At St Aloysius Primary in downtown Kingston, Guidance Counsellor Craig Denton shared that the school worked overtime to prepare for the students.
He pointed to temperature check stations on the school compound which will be utilised throughout the day. However, he lamented that PEP students had a short time for preparations.
“My drawback is that we have less than two weeks, so a lot of things have to be put in place. It is up to the child now to see how best they can absorb the information. It is a lot for all stakeholders,” he told the Observer.
“When they get here, the children proceed to a table where their temperature is recorded and their hands are sanitised. We have been hitting the ground running. On Sunday, up to 11:00 pm, we had persons here sterilising and sanitising each chair and desk to get this up and running. When I came here at 6:30 am, our principal, Althea Palmer, was here already making sure everything was in order.
“A lot of energy went into it, but it is our love for the job and wanting to see our children achieve and succeed in whatever they are doing,” Denton said.
Parent Lisa Francis said she was happy with the resumption of face-to-face instruction because her daughter, Savoya Douglas, was very distracted during the online classes.
“I feel very good because the online class nah happen at all. When di pickney dem fi inna class, dem gone pon TikTok and dem suppen deh. Mi haffi rough har up,” she told the Observer.
At Dunoon Park Technical High School, where Minister of of Education Youth and Information Fayval Williams toured to ensure COVID-19 prevention protocols were being observed, students were excited to be able to do their practicals for CSEC and CAPE.
Fifth form student Shanel Williams, who will sit seven CSEC subjects, said she was frustrated at home because of frequent Internet interruptions.
“The online was stressing because the Internet will come today and don't come tomorrow, and I didn't do some of my classes because they are practical. I have no doubts about my exams, though,” she said.
CSEC student Javar Nelson said he was feeling good “that school finally start back”.
“I do eight subjects. Online is not the same as physical classes. It kinda hard. The Internet behaves shaky. To be able to come back to school is a good thing. I can do my practical at school,” Nelson said.
Minister Williams expressed confidence that each of the over 500 schools reopened yesterday would observe all protocols established to prevent any spread of the virus, since the Ministry of Health and Wellness was satisfied that adequate measures were in place after inspections.
Williams also said an important element in the resumption of face-to-face classes was that teachers be vaccinated against COVID-19. She said, however, that the Government wasn't considering making vaccination for teachers mandatory.
“We are battling the negative impact on learning loss in the education sector. So while I know that many thousands have been online, I know there are many who have not been on consistently, and so being able to be back, ahead of exams, is good for the students, to be able to interact with their teachers and get their minds geared towards these tests,” she said.
“Well over 500 schools were opened and will continue throughout the week. I know that during the past week over 7,000 teachers were vaccinated during the blitz. The numbers we got of the teachers that remained to be vaccinated were around 6,000 or so. It is extremely important because the teachers are interacting with students,” the minister argued.
“I know that no one can be forced to take the vaccine as of this moment in time. I know it has been asked already, but I don't know that we have the perfect answer just yet. It is voluntary right now,” she added.
Now you can read the Jamaica Observer ePaper anytime, anywhere. The Jamaica Observer ePaper is available to you at home or at work, and is the same edition as the printed copy available at https://bit.ly/epaper-login