Acting Chief Education Officer in the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information, Dr. Kasan Troupe, says 569 schools will resume full operations when the 2020/21 academic year commences in September.
All schools have been closed since March due to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.
“Some schools will operate normally. This means we will have everybody in the same space every day and observing the physical distancing. With the infrastructure that we have in place in these institutions, they will be able to accommodate their fully enrolled students,” Dr. Troupe noted.
“Our thrust is to have more face-to-face engagements and to have more children in schools, in light of the supervisory challenges that some parents will have,” she explained.
Dr. Troupe was speaking at a back-to-school parent information virtual town hall on Tuesday (August 4).
The information session was hosted by the Ministry in collaboration with the National Parenting Support Commission and the National Parent-Teacher Association of Jamaica.
Dr. Troupe noted that the institutions will be implementing a blended learning approach and forging stakeholder partnerships aimed at adequately facilitating physical-distancing protocols for students when the new academic year gets under way, in keeping with COVID-19 safeguards being emphasised by the Ministry of Health and Wellness.
“Some of these schools will establish temporary learning spaces, to include tents, rental agreements with nearby institutions, such as churches or places that have conference halls,” she outlined.
Meanwhile, she said an additional 303 primary and secondary schools will resume operations under the rotation model.
“This means that some days, students will operate in the virtual space from home, while others are at school. Because of the limitations of the physical infrastructure, some schools have opted to operate in this way. These schools are our very large high schools and primary schools, because it would be very difficult to keep everybody in the same space and keep them safe at the same time,” she pointed out.
Additionally, Dr. Troupe said the extended day model is part of the blended approach being explored by several institutions.
Acknowledging that while the model is not new, Dr. Troupe said it will be adopted by institutions that have not traditionally followed this framework.
“We have the extended day model as well where some schools will have children coming in from 8:00 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. It is a staggered shift in a sense, and will avail some physical space, so that persons can be kept safe in the environment,” she noted.
Also, as part of the curriculum schedule approved by the Ministry, several high schools, for grades 12 and 13, will be using the online modality for most of their engagements with students. The Ministry will also continue to provide printed learning kits (workbooks, textbooks and notes) to ensure all students have access to critical educational resources.
“All of these schedules will include the delivery of a blended learning approach. It means that the learning engagements will include face-to-face, e-learning or computer- aided lessons as well as the Ministry’s televised learning programmes,” she said.