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Story Highlights

  • Administrators at the Marcus Garvey Technical High School in St. Ann have hailed the return of students and the reopening of the institution as a success and a lesson in what can be accomplished by sheer tenacity and teamwork.
  • Speaking to JIS News on June 10, the administrators noted that all the health and safety guidelines that have been recommended by both the Ministry of Health and Wellness and the Ministry of Education are in place and are being adhered to by staff and students.
  • They also noted that the from home to back-to-school transition has been going “better than expected”.

Administrators at the Marcus Garvey Technical High School in St. Ann have hailed the return of students and the reopening of the institution as a success and a lesson in what can be accomplished by sheer tenacity and teamwork.

Speaking to JIS News on June 10, the administrators noted that all the health and safety guidelines that have been recommended by both the Ministry of Health and Wellness and the Ministry of Education are in place and are being adhered to by staff and students.

They also noted that the from home to back-to-school transition has been going “better than expected”.

Dean of Discipline at Marcus Garvey, Donnette Reid, said that the school had put together a safety and security team that kept in touch regularly… even when everybody was working from home.

“The role of the team was to ensure that preparations were in place for the return of the students, something which wasn’t easy and required real teamwork in order to execute. And, based on how smooth the transition has been, I would like to think we have done a pretty good job,” she said.

Ms. Reid noted that the team, which comprised a number of the teaching and administrative staff, including the principal and two vice-principals, was also instrumental in providing oversight in the online studies for students, ensuring that they were doing their homework, and in the case of the older students, “we had to keep their attention span intact, reminding them, from time to time, that they had exams coming up”.

Secondary schools across the island have reopened their doors to accommodate fifth- and sixth-form students who will be sitting the Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) and Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examination (CAPE), beginning July 13.

Schools were closed on March 13 as the Government put measures in place to contain the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19).

For her part, Principal Anniona Jones, said that from a leadership standpoint, the team took a decision from early that instead of worrying about matters beyond their control, “we decided to look for opportunities that would help us prepare for life during and after COVID-19”.

“One of the key things that we did was to communicate with our internal and external partners that we were going to have honest, open and transparent leadership… and that we were committed to provide them with excellent service,” she explained.

“That’s where it all started. We did not have a school that had any online learning platforms. As a matter of fact, cell phones were not allowed at school. So, we had to take a paper-based educational institution and programme and convert that into an online platform, which was done in three days,” Ms. Jones said.

“So, by Monday, the 16th of March, we were able to get about 54 per cent of our students registered into WhatsApp groups. We now have a little under 73 or 74 per cent of our students online in WhatsApp classes… a completely collaborative approach. Of our 119 teachers, every teacher registers every day what is done for every student, and we track all 1,764 students every day,” she added.

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