Wed | Nov 25, 2020

Online learning is a welcome experience – principal

Published:Tuesday | October 27, 2020 | 12:11 AMJudana Murphy/Gleaner Writer

Principal of Hope Valley Experimental School, Anthony Grant, is reporting that the move to online learning has been a “welcome experience” for the St Andrew-based school.

The institution, which currently has a population of 720 students, was founded in 1972 as a primary school for both the disabled and able-bodied children living in the area around the Sir John Golding Rehabilitation Centre.

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, several students had to use an alternative route to get to school, resulting in longer transportation time as the road leading to the school from August Town was, and still is, broken.

But when school resumed on October 5, transportation was no longer a challenge as students have been primarily engaged on Google Suite for classes in the comfort of their homes.

“The challenge we are experiencing now is Internet connectivity. Quite a number of our children are without Internet ,and as we speak, we have just received the tablets for the PATH students, so that is going to alleviate another of our problems because some students had to be sharing devices at home,” he told The Gleaner.

The school has 170 students registered on the Programme of Advancement Through Health and Education (PATH).

Grant also said that the school has been receiving overwhelming assistance from private-sector partners and past students who have provided devices for students and that he was “eternally grateful for the kind of support students have been getting”.

“Some students are totally without Internet and gadgets, so we have arranged that they come every Friday to do pick-ups and to return work, that is printed material,” the principal shared.

Home-based schooling has called on parents and guardians to offer more supervision to students in the learning process.

“We have had no complaints from teachers, particularly those in the special education department. They have been equipped with the know-how of how to reach their students, and those students, most of them are assigned caregivers, so they have an adult working closely with them,” he said, adding that five per cent of the school cohort, or 36 students, were special education students.

He said that so far, students were being adequately supervised and teachers had been accommodating of parents who are away at work during class time and who are in need of guidance.

He said that there have been talks about the use of technology in education for a long time, and the mass adaptation to a change in modality is a positive of the pandemic.

“When they come back face-to-face, I think they will be much more comfortable in moving away from the chalk and talk into the use of technology and a more student-oriented process,” the principal said.