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Schools gear up for exam prep classes

Published:Wednesday | May 27, 2020 | 12:08 AMJudana Murphy/Gleaner Writer

AS THEY refine the education ministry’s coronavirus protocols for the reopening of schools on June 8 for exam preparations, Jamaican administrators are in a race against time to overcome logistical and other challenges.

The face-to-face classes are expected to run until July 3.

Additional teaching time was granted by the ministry to ensure the readiness of students sitting Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC) exams after schools were closed on March 13.

The exams are set to begin on July 27 and triggered the release of the Education in Emergencies School Resumption Manual.

Principal of Manning’s School, Steve Gordon, said that his staff was tasked with dissipating anxiety that was noticeable among students.

Gordon said that the school nurse, guidance counsellor, and dean of discipline are expected to return to provide support.

The Savanna-la-Mar, Westmoreland, institution will see the return of more than 280 eleventh-graders and 170 sixth-formers.

Though the protocols have not been finalised, Gordon disclosed that students and staff would attend school on a department or subject basis – at least two per day.

“Our concessionaire should have their protocols ready in the next couple of days and should be there on property for the provision of meals,” he said, adding that students will also be encouraged to take their own lunches.


Meanwhile, Pembroke Hall High principal the Rev Claude Ellis admitted that he was unsure about the number of students and teachers who would turn out for the revision weeks.

“I am also concerned about whether or not our students will be able to access public transportation on time to get off the road before nightfall,” he said.

Despite his reservations, Ellis said that administrators would seek to safeguard the health and well-being of students and staff.

“We are looking at each of the variables to see how we can mitigate with each one, but we are on our way to readiness,” he said.

Acting principal of Ardenne High, Dr Jacqueline Pinto, said that the main source of worry was of asymptomatic or so-called silent carriers of the new coronavirus.

“Despite the fact that you have shields [and] you may have masks, you never know. So we just put in place measures and just have to be careful in how we operate and manage,” Pinto explained.

At least 600 of Kingston College’s 2,000 students are expected to return on a scheduled basis.

The principal’s concern lies with the teacher-student ratio for subjects with high participant volumes.

“Every fifth-former does math, and you need teachers to manage those revision classes based on the whole issue of social distancing,” said Dave Myrie.

“So it means then that the online school may virtually shut down for a day based on the number of teachers you might need in the environment.”

While disclosing that administrators were exploring other options, Myrie said KC will be using the exam prep period as a test run for the whole-scale reopening in September.

All persons entering the compound will have their temperature taken and random checks done by the school nurse throughout the day.

Myrie revealed that an isolation room has been identified in the event that a student has a high fever or presents with other symptoms of COVID-19. Classrooms have been measured to determine accommodation capacity.