Mon | Jan 18, 2021

More than 100 schools deemed satisfactory by Health Ministry for reopening

Published:Wednesday | November 25, 2020 | 3:34 PM
Minister of Education, Fayval Williams, addressing a virtual post-Cabinet press briefing on Wednesday, November 25, 2020 - Contributed photo.

Paul Clarke, Gleaner Writer

More than 100 institutions across Jamaica have been inspected and given a passing grade by the Ministry of Health and Wellness.

The exercise was part of the assessment for the phased reopening of schools in 2021.

Education Minister Fayval Williams says her ministry has been looking at the list of schools and that it is in talks with the respective principals to ascertain the level of readiness when the green light is given.

Williams said that despite the fact that teachers and support staff are still on the school plant operating, getting educators prepared is a big issue as she said that many of them would also be making preparations for their own children.

She said that this has presented its own logistical challenge.

“It isn’t as if we can just get up and say to the 109 schools ‘come back in’. We are in touch with the principals to work out how we continue to bring schools back,” said Williams earlier today while speaking at a post-Cabinet press briefing at Jamaica House.

The Ministry will utilise the risk-based assessment that it employed in the pilot reopening programme to inform the proposed phased resumption of classes next year.

The assessment looked at the school’s ability to facilitate physical classes, travel distance for students, adequate water supply, and efficient Internet access, among other factors.

“As you would have noticed with the 17 schools, they were spread across nine parishes and so we will continue to use that same methodology because it has given us useful information to use and refine the process as we go along,” Williams said.

Williams stated that preliminary information highlighted one major issue, that of how schools would handle COVID-19 cases in students who show symptoms.

“We have to ensure that the schools are sufficiently resourced and not just in terms of the information but also the physical setting to be able to manage that situation,” she said.

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