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Principal: Declare Easter, summer breaks now - Calls for school to resume in June

Published:Friday | March 20, 2020 | 12:20 AMJudana Murphy/Gleaner Writer
Lynton Weir
Lynton Weir

Principal of Old Harbour High School, Lynton Weir, has suggested that schools proceed on the Easter and summer breaks should COVID-19 sweep Jamaica.

All infant, primary, and secondary schools, as well as tertiary institutions, have been ordered closed for 14 days, starting March 13.

The public will be updated after 10 days if the closure will be extended.

“If it runs very long, greater conversation will have to take place with the Ministry of Education and also the Jamaica Teachers’ Association. Probably the best thing to do is ... to resume school June 1,” Weir said in an interview with The Gleaner.

“The school year is 190 days, and depending on how long it is going to run, we’re gonna lose a lot of school days.”

Weir said when the closure was announced by Prime Minister Andrew Holness on March 12, he met with exam students and explored several possibilities – including the prospect of the Caribbean Examinations Council using internal assessment grades to generate final scores for students.

The syllabuses for the majority of subjects have been completed and some teachers are in revision mode.

“We are not badly off as it relates to readiness, and our teachers have jumped to the occasion because instruction for us is very important,” he said, adding that the vast majority of school-based assessments have been submitted.

In a press statement last Friday, CXC, based in Barbados, said that it had taken note of the developments concerning COVID-19 and its impact on the CARICOM region.

CXC met with the various ministries of education and discussions were had about the various scenarios for the administration of its examinations.

“The council will continue to work with the governments of the various territories to arrive at a regional consensus and will update the public accordingly,” a section of the statement read.

Further, the regional body said its first priority is the health and well-being of all stakeholders.

The Rev Claude Ellis, principal of Pembroke Hall High School, has urged his students, especially those preparing for exams, to be responsible during the break.

“The students are now doing the final stages of the SBAs and, of course, we have not yet completed the syllabus, like many other schools, and so we are trying to see what contingencies we can put in place,” Ellis said.

Meanwhile, principal of Bustamante High School, Wayne Evans, told The Gleaner that some teachers have begun to use Google platforms to communicate with students.

“We can only do our best to meet the deadlines. We got 14 days, so we just have to try our best to cover some ground,” the principal of the Clarendon-based school said.

“When we come back, we can assess and see if we are satisfied that the students have covered enough work. Hopefully they return at the time appointed,” Evans said.