Principal of Giddy Hall Primary School in St. Elizabeth, Dr. Judith Clarke, says that education can emerge stronger than before the global pandemic as students show greater interest in their studies.
Giddy Hall Primary was among 376 primary schools selected for the resumption of in-person learning on Monday (November 8), incorporating some 45,390 students and 2,520 teachers nationwide.
Speaking to JIS News on Tuesday (November 9), Dr. Clarke noted that the school’s 20 boys and 22 girls are already exhibiting greater focus on and value for their education now that they are back in the physical classrooms.
“They are happy to be back in school. They are happy to see their friends and are happy to share their experiences with teachers,” she said.
“Even with the reading programme, we have a book buddy programme that I lead where I give them library books to encourage their reading. So yesterday, when they came in and I could give them the books, they were happy. Some students even came back and said, ‘Miss, I finished my book’,” she said.
Dr. Clarke said this enthusiasm for face-to-face engagement can only lead to better grades and academic performance, not only at Giddy Hall Primary but other schools across the country.
“This is a welcome [decision] to have the students back in face-to-face mode. I think it is the best thing for them in [comparison] to online and print work, because there is nobody [physically there] to explain and, sometimes, those who are at home have a challenge. [Parents] do not have the time to supervise or assist, and so having them (students) face-to-face with their teacher is the best,” she told JIS News.
Giddy Hall Primary was approved for resumption of face-to-face following an in-depth risk assessment by the Ministry of Health and Wellness, along with the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information. There are five teachers and two ancillary staff members.
Students and staff are required to wash or sanitise their hands, and have their temperature checked and recorded before entering the school compound. Every classroom is equipped with sanitiser and desks, and chairs are arranged six feet apart.
“It was usual for the students to keep their social distance and we re-marked the classroom seating areas. So, the students know where they are supposed to sit, they know how to go about playing outside with very close supervision,” Dr. Clarke told JIS News.
“So, I think, with the support in the community, with the Ministry of Education and my parents, we can do great things here,” she added.
Over at Lewisville High School in the parish, students are also excited to be back in the physical classrooms.
The institution’s Principal, Duken Williams, told JIS News that only the fifth-form students are required to return, and they are already taking full advantage of the opportunity.
“We are on the second day and we have over 70 students here to sit our City & Guilds mock examinations in Mathematics and English, and so the students are very engaged,” Mr. Williams said.
“We are happy that the Government of Jamaica has allowed us to have our fifth-form students come back because they are the critical ones at this time. They need to complete their school-based assessments (SBAs) and there is a lot of other work to be done.
“I believe it is critical that we engage our students, so that they will be able to get ready for their City & Guilds examinations, their National Council on Technical and Vocational Education and Training (NCTVET) examinations, and their Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC),” he added.