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Take back-to-school preparations beyond desks and chairs, says NPTAJ president

Published:Monday | August 29, 2016 | 12:00 AMJodi-Ann Gilpin
Everton Hannam

Everton Hannam, president of the National Parent-Teacher Association of Jamaica (NPTAJ), is recommending that it cannot be business as usual as students prepare for the new academic year.

Hannam told The Gleaner yesterday that preparations have to go beyond ensuring that schools are stacked with desks and chairs, but should urgently deal with emerging issues such as the Zika virus and possible repercussions that could arise from the ongoing hurricane season.

"Unlike previous years, this year, we are faced with the Zika virus and the threat that it can cause. Therefore, we are going to have to take extra care in ensuring that our schools' physical facilities and surroundings are void of any materials and receptacles, that could accumulate water, which could lead to the spread of the disease," he said.

"We are still in a hurricane season and that is something we have to bear in mind. Security is another concern that has to be addressed, especially for schools located in volatile areas. We want to ensure that students who have to travel in those areas are protected and safe," Hannam said.


Adhere to rules


He also urged parents to ensure that children adhere to the school rules to prevent students from being locked out due to breaches.

Various schools in the Corporate Area, including Kingston College and the Tivoli Gardens High School, barred students from entering the compound due to what they said were breaches of the code of conduct.

At Kingston College, several boys were sent home because they admitted that they were wearing fades, a style in which the hair at the sides is lower than at top of the head.

At Tivoli Gardens High School students were sent home for wearing uniforms that were shorter than the required length.

"We remember quite well that a year or two ago students were locked out of school because the uniforms, in many cases, are more than the required measurement above the knee. It's (barring students) a policy we do not support, but at the same time, we are urging all parents to ensure that the disciplinary code, which they would have signed after receiving packages, is followed closely," he said.

"I'm mindful that parents are finding it difficult and are facing challenges in ensuring that their children attend school; however, I am calling for all parents to make sure that their children or child is present, especially on the first day."