Bellas Gate Primary forced to adjust plans for grade six
Faced with the current spike in COVID-19 cases in St Catherine, the Bellas Gate Primary School in the parish has been forced to alter previous arrangements for its grade six programme for the new school year.
Principal of the school, Georgia Claire, said the plan to have grade six students visiting the school twice per week to have face-to-face interaction with teachers had to be scrapped because of the spike in cases of the potentially deadly virus.
“We have had 60 per cent engagement of our students in the online teaching programme which started in March using the WhatsApp platform. We intend to get to 100 per cent using Zoom,”she said.
“We saw where it was working, except for the challenges some parents faced, who had only one phone in the house and sometimes they had to leave the house with the phone to attend to other businesses, putting the student at a disadvantage,” Claire disclosed.
According to her, some parents who could afford it acquired gadgets, and some who could not get Internet service resorted to the use of data that has proven to be very expensive.
“With only 10 students in the grade six programme, we have had up to 85 per cent engagement of these students in actual teaching sessions using the Zoom platform since the beginning of school,” Claire said, adding that the 15 per cent who have not been able to engage are those without gadgets.
“As it relate to gadgets, however, that too is an issue. Parents have been asking when will the tablets promised by the Government be made available to the students who need them, but they are not getting answers,” she added.
According to Claire, students have been able to access Internet provided in the area by a local businessman, and they are excited because of their ability to experience actual teaching via Zoom.
“This Internet arrangement, however, could be imperilled because of the death of the provider, Ricardo Thomas, who was slain by gunmen in Red Ground, Old Harbour, on Sunday night,” Claire revealed.
Despite these issues, the Bellas Gate Primary School principal said she has devised a plan to have students take their workbooks to the school in reusable plastic bags that can be easily sanitised on a weekly basis, so that teachers can follow their progress. She said parents will be required to pick up these workbooks after they are assessed by the grade six teachers.
- Ruddy Mathison