Teacher at the Corinaldi Avenue Primary School Tiffanny Bowen, supervises students during a mask-free activity on their first day back in face-to-face classes on January 10.
Photo: Contributed

Students from two prominent St. James schools, Corinaldi Avenue Primary and the Montego Bay Infant School, were abuzz with excitement as both institutions reopened their doors for face-to-face classes on January 10.

Principal (Acting) of Corinaldi Avenue Primary, Deon Stern-Anglin, told JIS News that of the 420 students expected to be in attendance for the first day back, some 376 were present.

The mixed approach is being used, as “grades one, two and three will come in Mondays and Tuesdays, and Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays we have grades four to six”.

Mrs. Stern-Anglin stated, however, that a meeting will be held with the teachers to see where the shortfalls were throughout the first day and find solutions for them.

“We are working on things, and I know some parents are complaining about some students getting one day [of face-to-face], because the majority of the students are getting a one day, the most they will get is two days. So, in two weeks’ time, we think we are going to use a week-on-week-off approach, so some students would [end up] getting two days, some will get three, because we must still maintain our protocols,” she said.

She further noted the school board is working in tandem with the institution towards putting anything that is required in place.

As it relates to access, Mrs. Stern-Anglin underscored that parents are not being allowed on the school premises at this time, unless they have an appointment to be there.

Prior to the opening of school, consultations were held with parents and a video sent out regarding the protocols that would be enforced on the school compound. These include temperature checks, sanitisation, mask wearing and social distancing.

The Acting Principal noted that teachers, as well as guidance counsellors and additional staff, have been ensuring that students adhere to the protocols. Mrs. Stern-Anglin told JIS News that “so far, they have been compliant, I would give them for today an 80 per cent out of the 100, but we will get to the 100, we just need to speak to students more”.

Mrs. Stern-Anglin also outlined that teachers expressed they were hoping to accommodate more students in more frequent face-to-face classes, as the learning loss has made quite a dent on their education.

To aid in remedying the learning loss, the school has boosted its reading department, adding two extra teachers’ assistants to students who are having literacy issues.

Mrs. Stern-Anglin further noted that the Calvary Baptist Church, located in the parish, has contacted the school and offered the use of its church hall and Internet connection, to accommodate more students for face-to-face classes.

The Acting Principal is also commending the teachers, as they have been engaging in both face-to-face and online teaching simultaneously, as it is not an easy task.

Mrs. Stern-Anglin noted that, all in all, the first day of face-to-face classes went smoothly.

Meanwhile, at the neighboring institution, Montego Bay Infant School, the return to face-to-face classes was a little less smooth.

Principal of the School, Venice Morris, told JIS News that the first day was a bit challenging, as some parents were reluctant to just leave their small children at the gate as they were instructed. This was to ensure that students made a seamless transition from being sanitised and given temperature checks by staff of the school at the entrance then escorted to their classes.

“Some of them wouldn’t even leave; some of them waited until they put the child in; they would [pucker] their mouth for a little kiss, or they want a little hug….[the children] were home with their parents for a little while, so we kind of understand that… but it was a good day, challenging, but a good day,” Ms. Morris said.

There were consultations with parents and teachers prior to the reopening of school, to ensure that all parties were aware of expectations once school reopened.

She noted that the students were compliant, wearing their masks, social distancing and being sanitised under strict supervision.

Ms. Morris further added that “ no child will leave the class without assistance, so if they are going… to the bathroom, they will have somebody who will go to the door and allow them to go in, and then when they come out, the person who brought them ensures that they wash their hands [and so on], and takes them back to the class, so they are not allowed to roam the compound without someone there. They have lunch and break inside”.

Ancillary workers at the school are tasked with cleaning the premises three times per day before the children leave the compound; a log is also kept by the workers to show what areas were sanitised each time.

Ms. Morris noted that classes are being held on a rotation basis from Monday to Thursday, and then on Friday, special face-to-face classes are held for those with Internet challenges at home. There is also a literacy specialist employed to the school who has sessions with the students.

She added that mask breaks are also given to the students when they are on the larger sections of the school premises, such as the playing field.

Ms. Morris further stated that the students were already familiar with what was expected of them, as they sat their end-of-term examinations face-to-face just last month.

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