Fri | Nov 26, 2021

Phew! Students happy to be back in school

Published:Tuesday | June 9, 2020 | 12:27 AMKavarly Arnold and Ashley Anguin/Gleaner Writers
Mt Alvernia High School students wash their hands at a station that was set up by the school to mitigate against the spread of the coronavirus.
Mt Alvernia High School students wash their hands at a station that was set up by the school to mitigate against the spread of the coronavirus.

Despite the threat of contracting the coronavirus, most students from secondary schools in western Jamaica were happy to be back, physically, in school yesterday to prepare for their external exams. They are hoping that the month-long refresher programme to prepare them to sit the Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) examinations and the Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examination (CAPE) will be enough to help them to ace the exams since the online classes, according to them, were ineffective.

The exams are scheduled to get under way on July 13, and the refresher programme will end on July 3.

Schools were closed in March by the Government as part of efforts to limit the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19). Since then, students had to adjust to online learning via various mediums such as Zoom, Google Classrooms, and WhatsApp.

Mt Alvernia High School fifth-former Noelle Thorpe said despite feeling nervous at first about going back to school, she knows that focusing on preparing for exams is what matters.

“I was a bit anxious at first because I know some people don’t see the coronavirus as a real issue and might not adhere to the rules. However, I shook off that feeling and came because I know what I have to do,” Thorpe said.

“I honestly don’t think that it (online classes) were enough because I for one didn’t do enough online work per se. I just hit the books really hard. There wasn’t a set timetable for each class and what we should do. Hence, I don’t think the online classes were enough,” she added.

Mt Alvernia student Sarita Stewart is happy to be back at school after describing the online classes as ineffective. She is hoping that the month of physical classes will be enough preparation for her, going into next month’s exams.

“I was a bit scared coming back, yes. However, Mt Alvernia is putting things (safety measures) in place for us, so that releases the tension. I’m also excited to see my friends and want to hug them, but sadly, I cannot,” Stewart said.

More focused

“The online school wasn’t effective at all because of the many distractions and Internet problems. It wasn’t easy to focus with all the distractions, and some teachers, honestly, didn’t care,” she added.

Darren King, a sixth-form student at Herbert Morrison Technical High School, said the return to school is too early.

“I didn’t really want to come back to school this morning. I don’t think it’s safe to be back so early due to the virus being at large. Also, there is no cure (vaccine) readily available. I think the exams could be put off to a later date.

“We are not mentally prepared for exams because being relaxed for so long, it is hard to get into that mindset. Most of the preparations which were to be done from March were cut short, so we didn’t get to learn all we should. I personally didn’t have any online classes. My teachers didn’t see it necessary at grade 13 (upper six) to have online classes,” he added.

Clifton Suban, a sixth-form student at Frome Technical High School, said that he was happy to be back in school so that he could properly prepare for next month’s exams.

“I feel good about going back to school because I want to pass my CAPE. I am not worried about the virus. We wear a mask, and the school provides sanitation, so we just have to follow the protocols,” said Suban, who was also the captain of the daCosta Cup team.

“The online teaching never did a work. Not all the time we get to communicate and not all the students had Internet and resources. I think this one month will help once you’re serious,” he added.

Owen Dixon, student council president of William Knibb Memorial High School, said he felt safe going back to school with the safety protocols put in place.

“Sanitisers and masks were provided, and we have to maintain social distancing – six feet apart in each class. Everyone is getting along and not complaining,” Dixon said.