JIS News

The 171 students and 12 teachers of Bethlehem Primary and Infant School in Malvern, St. Elizabeth, returned to the classroom on Tuesday (November 10), as the pilot for face-to-face classes got under way.

A total of 17 primary and secondary institutions across the island are participating in the two-week trial. School plants have been closed since March due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

The school’s Vice Principal, Deneisha Rowe, told JIS News that the institution started preparing for the reopening of schools in September “so when we got the communication from the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information [to participate in the pilot], we were about 75 per cent ready”.

“We sought to put in our handwashing stations, sanitising agents, additional staff and now we are ready and rearing to go,” she said.

Ms. Rowe informed that there are 23 students on average to a classroom and the furniture has been arranged to meet the physical distancing requirements.

She said that the temperature of students and staff are checked at the gates and they were required to wash or sanitise their hands before entering the classrooms.

Ms. Rowe indicated that the students have been in a good mood since being back at school and have been very receptive to face-to-face teaching.

“Prior to this, we engaged them through the online learning management system where teachers would use Google Classroom and also WhatsApp. Most of the communities from which our students come have Internet issues, so we had that to deal with,” she noted.

“Having the students back in school now where we can have face-to-face learning will help us to pick up where we left off and have them back to where they would normally be,” Mrs. Rowe added.

Meanwhile, grade-six teacher, Marcine Parkinson-Pike, said it was “exciting” having her students back in class. She said that in addition to the academics, she has been reinforcing to the students the need for them to keep to their personal space.

“It is just that we have to be very careful and keep in our minds that we have to be on our Ps and Qs. We have to take extra precaution and ensure that they sanitise and wash their hands when they should and they stay in their own space,” said Mrs. Parkinson-Pike.

“It is really a wonderful feeling having them back in school and seeing them face to face. The students are excited to be in school and are participating as well,” she added.

Grade-five student, Devoneil Foster, told JIS News that it “feels great” to be at school and to see his friends and teachers.

He assured that he will be following the rules and adhering to the safety protocols put in place.

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