Wed | Dec 8, 2021

16% of western schools miss first day of reopening

Published:Tuesday | May 11, 2021 | 12:12 AMChristopher Thomas/Gleaner Writer


While 24 public educational institutions in western Jamaica remained closed yesterday, 129 welcomed students in a partial reopening of schools to help students in grades six, 11, 12 and 13 to prepare for exit examinations.

The day went smoothly, for the most part, although some students shied away from a return to in-person classes.

“We did all we needed to do to prepare for this. Plus, we were inspected on April 29 by the health authorities, and we think we are in line with what the expectations are. Things are good here, for the most part, although we are only seeing a little over 50 per cent of the grade 11 students turning out so far,” Norman Allen, principal of Frome Technical High School in Westmoreland, told The Gleaner

“It has been about a week now that the Government announced this opening, so many of the students would not have mentally or physically prepared themselves for coming back to school. We will have to allow the week to run off and see how the numbers change as the week progresses,” he explained.

Yvonne Miller-Wisdom, principal of the John Rollins Success Primary School in St James, said that her grade six cohort came out for classes, albeit using various modes of transportation to get there.

“We started with the grade six students today, and it went smoothly,” said Miller-Wisdom. “The preparation took a lot out of us, but everything was in place ... as the canteen was open and the classes were sanitised. Right now, I am in a meeting with the janitorial staff, making plans for the rest of the week.”

Miller-Wisdom told The Gleaner that her students had not yet started using the public transportation that the Government has assigned for them.

“They used private vehicles, some of them walk, and some of them have the regular minibuses that they take, but I know the children got the link to an app for transportation, and so they are now registering for it,” she said.

Dr Michelle Pinnock, director for the Ministry of Education’s Region Four, acknowledged that not all of the 153 public schools in the region – which covers St James, Hanover, and Westmoreland – reopened yesterday.

“We have 21 out of 25 secondary schools open today, and the remainder will open within the week, although Herbert Morrison Technical High School is not open because they are currently doing mock exams, and so that school will open next Monday. For the primary schools, we have 108 out of 128 which are open, and we are hoping that the remaining ones will open within the week,” Pinnock told The Gleaner.

“There is an app that has been launched to collect information in terms of the students’ transportation needs, and based on that data we are going to be organising to facilitate transportation where the needs arise. In the meantime, our principals have been having conversations with the local transport persons to impress upon them to follow the safety protocols as it relates to transporting the students,” added Pinnock.