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GSAT Calm - Students sit exam without smoke interference

Published:Thursday | March 26, 2015 | 12:00 AM
Tajeem Casey, of the Waterford Primary School in St Catherine, looking over the GSAT paper yesterday.
Grade-six students celebrate with happy faces at the end of the first day of GSAT at Calabar Infant, Primary and Junior High School in Kingston.
Students at Duhaney Park Primary School show off the tools of their trade before sitting the GSAT yesterday.
A student at Duhaney Park Primary School in St Andrew prays during devotion before sitting GSAT yesterday.
Sharon Clue hugs her son D’marko Levy at the George Headley Primary School.
Simonne Jones (centre), with her daughter, Britney Patterson, and nephew David Clarke at the George Headley Primary School.
Courtney Willis kisses his daughter, Abigayle Willis, after dropping her off at the George Headley Primary School in St Andrew for the first day of the Grade Six Achievement Test.

Students across the Corporate Area yesterday experienced a state of calm as they entered the first-day sitting of the Grade Six Achievement Test (GSAT).

When a Gleaner team visited schools which were most affected by the smoke from the Riverton disposal site, principals expressed relief at the absence of smoke.

Lydia Richards, principal of Duhaney Park Primary, was in a jubilant mood.

"I am feeling good this morning. I stepped out in faith and prayed that the smoke would not be an issue today and, so far, it has cleared up earlier than normal," she said.

After sharing words of encouragement with the students, she prayed with them and directed them to the exam centres.

The situation at George Headley Primary reflected a similar tone. Parents who accompanied their children exchanged hugs as they saw their children off.

Many parents indicated that they were hopeful that the smoke would remain at bay but have taken precautions by giving their children dust masks in the event of a resurgence.

At Waterford Primary, students stood in a cue as their names were being called out from the register.

Principal Rohan Walker was confident that his students would do well.

"Our students are ready; they have been affected by the smoke, but they are resilient and I expect them to do well," he said.

In the meantime, the Ministry of Education deployed education officers, who were present at the schools when The Gleaner visited.

Jeneive Williams, education officer for the Portmore Quality Education Circle, who was at Waterford Primary, said, "A contingency plan is in place to move students, to shuttle students, to Independence City Primary and Southborough Primary. We are constantly monitoring the situation because we want to ensure that nothing goes wrong with the exam."

At Seaview Gardens Primary, exams were already in progress.

Patrice Supria, the education ministry's Region One director, who was doing his final checks at that school, said conditions were good and that exams began without incident.

The Ministry of Education instructed schools to delay exams by an hour in anticipation of any issues with the smoke.

Yesterday, students wrote the mathematics and social studies papers. Today, they will write language arts, science and communication tasks.

A total of 38,470 students were confirmed to sit the GSAT this year.