Sun | Mar 7, 2021

Cornwall College, Mount Alvernia among western schools reopening this week

Published:Tuesday | January 26, 2021 | 12:11 AMAlbert Ferguson/Gleaner Writer
Students of Cornwall College having a class in one of the school’s science labs yesterday.
Students of Cornwall College having a class in one of the school’s science labs yesterday.

Western Bureau:

By the end of this week, 34 schools in St James, Hanover, and Westmoreland – which make up the Ministry of Education’s Region Four – are expected to be involved in a blend of face-to-face and online classes as more COVID-19-shuttered schools reopen their doors.

Seven additional schools in the region are reopening this week for physical classes for the first time since they were closed last March,when the first case of COVID-19 was detected in the island.

“As of this week, we are adding seven schools. Five are on today (Monday) – Flankers Primary, Albion Primary, Cornwall College, and Anchovy High in St James - and for Hanover, we have Hopewell High,” Region Four Director Dr Michelle Pinnock told The Gleaner yesterday.

“We had [face-to-face classes in] 27 schools previously – four in Hanover, nine in St James, and 14 in Westmoreland. Of that number, there were five secondary schools as of last Friday,” said Pinnock.

Today, Mount Alvernia High in St James will also reopen, followed by Mearnsville Primary in Westmoreland on Wednesday.

Pinnock noted that in the case of the high schools, most were concentrating on their examination cohorts in grades 11 to 13.

For the smaller schools, students from all grades are being facilitated in their physical classrooms on a rotational system based on their schools’ population.

While the education ministry and many students are seemingly comfortable with the return of face-to-face classes, some parents remain concerned.

“I am really worried about this face-to-face arrangement with this COVID-19 still active in Jamaica,” said Maxine Smith, who will be sending her daughter back to school today with a great deal of reservation. “While I can trust the school to put in the sanitation stations and see to it that the children follow the social-distance protocols, I am worried about them travelling in the same taxis and buses with these [undisciplined] people who refuse to wear masks or obey the social-distancing rule.”

She added: “I am worried about my daughter getting it and bringing home because her elderly grandmother is at home with us and she has an underlying condition. What the Government should be doing is to cover the island with Internet service because if the Internet service was good, virtual classes would not be an issue.”

However, Smith’s daughter can hardly wait to return to the classroom.

“Once we follow the protocol, I don’t see a problem. I hate the virtual thing because there are so many issues – sometimes the Internet isn’t working, sometimes you want to catch the teacher’s attention and you can’t. It is just not easy,” she said.