When schools reopen for the new academic year, it will not be business as usual, as school leaders and students will have to adjust to the new normal that the coronavirus (COVID-19) presents.
The National College for Educational Leadership (NCEL) is ensuring that school leaders are equipped with the skills and know-how to implement the COVID-19 protocols.
Hundreds of school leaders have been exposed to NCEL’s newest asynchronous learning product, dubbed the ‘3R-Framework’. This pioneering intervention was built around creating innovative strategies for the implementation of the protocols from the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information, and the Ministry of Health and Wellness.
Director/Principal of NCEL, Dr. Taneisha Ingleton, tells JIS News that given that COVID-19 impacted educational planning, policies, and school operations, the College recognised that principals will have to look at all of the areas differently for the reopening of schools.
The Head of NCEL says that the 3R-Framework is a short online course designed to equip the school leaders with practical tips, tools and strategies as they prepare for the new normal.
Dr. Ingleton points out that the three Rs in the framework stands for ‘Regroup’, ‘Recondition’, and ‘Rebuild’.
According to her, it provides rich information and meaningful strategies on a range of critical areas to include establishing health and safety guidelines to safeguard the well-being of all stakeholders to facilitate a smooth reopening of schools; shows how to assess the unique context in which to operate and apply various innovative approaches; develop the requisite polices, guidelines and procedures consistent with those of the Ministries; shows how to critically examine the curriculum and to modify the curriculum to improve students’ performance during the pandemic; and shows how to retrofit school plants to minimise disruptions in the teaching and learning experience, based on the health and safety guidelines.
‘Regroup’, speaks to the ability of the school leaders to reassemble into a new grouping, especially after a tumultuous period. Under this heading, the focus is on areas such as: classroom space and physical distancing, group size and staffing, mealtime and recreation, and extracurricular activities.
‘Recondition’, is the ability to reframe mindset and way of thinking in order to embrace and navigate the changes. This focuses on areas such as leading with care; hygiene and cleaning (sanitising); health screening and arrival procedures.
‘Rebuild’, is the ability to revisit processes, standards and procedures to ensure the continuity of operations.
To date, more than 1,000 school leaders would have participated in the programme, and according to Dr. Ingleton, the feedback has been amazing.
Principal of the John’s Hall Primary School in St. James, Maxine Tugwell Brown, who participated in the training programme, applauds NCEL for such an insightful intervention.
“I am happy that they see it fit to engage us as leaders in this programme,” she says.
According to Mrs. Tugwell Brown, her school was recently inspected by the Health Ministry and they were very pleased with what they saw in terms of the school preparation to adhere to the protocols that are outlined.
She attributes this to her participation in the 3R Framework training programme.
Principal of Cascade Primary School in St. Ann, Marcia Thomas-Powell, describes the programme as an excellent one.
“It brings into focus some of the sensitive points to deal with as you reorganise in preparation for the reopening of schools,” she points out.
“For me, Recondition was the most appealing of the three Rs, because we now have to look at changing our strategies: redeploying, sensitising our parents and our teachers, having this COVID-19 talk, and teaching them how to have the talk with their children at home to prepare for back to school,” she explains.
“The programme was extremely effective, things that we took for granted, we now have to rethink and focus on the issues that really affect us going forward holistically,” she says.
For Principal, Happy Grove High School in Portland, Monique Grant-Facey, the programme is practical, on point and compact.
Her wish is that all her colleagues will be exposed to it. “It provides you with the necessary skills that you need to have while you are planning the different activities for reopening. The three main focus areas encompass all the things that you really need to put in place in order to function in the new normal,” she points out.
According to Mrs. Grant-Facey, she recognised from doing the programme that it would have been impossible to bring in all her students at the same time, based on physical space, so participating in this course and hearing about other participants’ situations, ideas are shared and you take the ones that best suit your situation.
Happy Grove High School has more than 1,200 students enrolled.
Dr. Ingleton discloses that as part of the monitoring and evaluation mechanism, participants are given a checklist in a google form, and are expected to respond to the areas of the course, which is feedback to NCEL.
The college will then be able to say what percentage of principals have certain protocols in place as opposed to those who do not.
“We then can feedback that into the Central Ministry system to see what kind of support we can provide to those who do not have things in place,” she says.
The NCEL will also deploy a number of officers to visit the schools when they reopen to do checks for accountability and monitoring purposes and then feedback to the regions and education officers with responsibility for schools improvement.
The course, which is a professional development intervention, is not mandatory; however, Dr. Ingleton is encouraging all school leaders to register, because of the quality of the product and for their own personal efficacy, and also recognising they need professional development in order to operate efficiently.
The course is completely on line; there are no facilitators. Therefore, participants are able to navigate through the materials, watch videos and conduct assessments at their own time and pace.
The NCEL was established in 2011 to equip school administrators with the requisite competencies to ensure that schools operate effectively in an increasingly demanding environment.
To achieve its mandate, the NCEL provides continuous professional development for leaders across the education sector, with a view to building on existing competencies and keeping them abreast of emerging practices and trends.