‘Not too late for education’
Morgan pushes back at criticisms that late-term reopening of schools is ill-timed
Junior Education Minister Robert Morgan has pushed back against criticism for the Government’s decision to allow the reopening of some schools on November 8, just a few weeks ahead of the Christmas break as the current academic term winds down.
Amid concerns over learning loss since classrooms were largely shuttered as COVID-19 forced lessons online, the Government had indicated that an easing of the current third wave of the pandemic, along with vaccination targets it had set, would be critical for the resumption of face-to-face classes.
On Tuesday, Prime Minister Andrew Holness said that more than 45,000 students and 2,520 teachers at the primary level have been given the green light to return to classrooms as infection numbers and the COVID-19 positivity rate fall.
Infant and basic schools are also being allowed to engage in face-to-face learning while 11th- to 13th-graders at the secondary level preparing for external exams will also be allowed in-person attendance for the completion of labs and other exam-related activities.
“It’s not too late for education; even an hour of education is important,” Morgan said on Wednesday, reacting to concerns that the resumption of school is ill-timed.
He told The Gleaner that the ministry was also continuing efforts to implement adequate programmes to stem learning loss.
Citing initiatives such as the summer-school programme held this year to offer remedial classes for students who suffered from learning gaps, Morgan expressed confidence that teachers, principals, and administrators would continue in their efforts in assisting the ministry to locate pupils falling behind and offer support where necessary.
This will be bolstered by the Yard to Yard Finding the Child initiative, which aims to locate about 25,000 students with whom no school contact has been made since March last year.
“There are always initiatives being put on by the ministry,” he said.
The state minister is also renewing a call for more Jamaicans to get vaccinated as this will allow for additional grades to reopen in secondary schools.
“I’m of the opinion that we should get vaccinated. That’s the best way to open back schools. We should not pass on the responsibility to children. The children have done what they are supposed to do. They want to go to school ... . The adults are the problem. They need to get vaccinated,” Morgan said.
Roughly 13 per cent of the island’s population has been fully vaccinated.