Ferris Primary implements literacy and numeracy programmes to address learning loss
The administration at Ferris Primary School in Westmoreland is implementing strategic literacy and numeracy programmes to address learning loss stemming from the closure of schools due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The institution is one of 376 schools across Jamaica that reopened for face-to-face classes on November 8, following approval by the Ministry of Education.
Speaking in an interview with JIS News, the school's acting principal, Karen James, said that a majority of students have missed out considerably on learning caused by challenges with online school.
She stated that students lost progress in mathematics and reading but special programmes are being devised to ensure every child can fulfil their potential.
“Writing skills have also diminished because when they were online, they were mostly using their tablets and their laptops so penmanship has dropped. Also reading, as many of them were not logging on at all and even though we had them download the app from the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information site for their reading books, some of them still would not log on to it to get the books to read,” James said.
“Math is picking up a little bit, but generally on the whole, many of the students have fallen back. But we have plans in place for a comprehensive reading programme to target all grades. We have a math resource room, which I plan to refurbish in the coming months because our focus this year is on Language Arts and Mathematics,” she continued.
The acting principal is expressing confidence that the strategies will positively impact the academic performance of students.
Meanwhile, James said operations have been running smoothly since the resumption of face-to-face learning.
She notes that grades four, five and six have seamlessly transitioned to full face-to-face classes, while grades one, two and three are being engaged both online and in-person.
James noted that attendance for the upper grades has been steadily improving, adding that she is optimistic that the numbers will increase over the coming weeks.
“I was expecting a bit of a greater turnout because when we had our Parent Teachers Association (PTA) meeting on November 3, all the parents were excited about sending their children back to school. But I remain optimistic. Now our average attendance daily is about 28 (for upper school) and so that's not bad because not all the grades are out yet… but I'm expecting more in the coming weeks,” she said.
James indicated that the prescribed health and safety protocols are being strictly enforced, noting that rules regarding mask wearing, social distancing and proper washing of hands are reinforced daily.
“The students are coached daily on the COVID-19 protocols so they know what to do once they get on the school compound. We have janitors and twice per day the classes are sanitised,” James shared.
“Students know that they are supposed to be wearing their masks when they come through the gate, their hands are washed and sanitised, temperatures are checked, and they proceed to their classroom. No sharing is done as all students have their own textbooks and we provide writing books, rulers, and pencils for those who don't have, so there is no sharing. So, we try our best to minimise contact at all times,” she added.
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