More than 300 fifth- and sixth-form students who will sit the Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) and Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examinations (CAPE), beginning July 13, showed up for classes at the St. Elizabeth Technical High School (STETHS) on Monday (June 8) as secondary schools across Jamaica reopened their doors for the first time in nearly three months.
Schools were closed on March 13 as the Government put measures in place to contain the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19).
Principal of STETHS, Keith Wellington and 23 teachers were on hand to welcome the students
Mr. Wellington told JIS News that preparations were made to ensure that the environment is safe for students and staff.
“The school would have done a few things to prepare. We put in a number of handwashing stations, installed sanitiser dispensers, did proper cleaning up, and arranged classrooms so that we can facilitate physical distancing of at least six feet,” he noted.
“The [safety] arrangements were completed on Friday (June 5) and we were checked by the Ministry of Health and Wellness, which passed the place as fit to accommodate students,” he noted.
The auditorium is being used for classes to ensure that the physical distance requirement is maintained.
Mr. Wellington told JIS News that classes will be held in three sessions each day – a morning session from 8:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m., a mid-morning session from 11:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., and an afternoon session from 1:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.
“So, based on how the timetable is set, students are in classes for the majority of the day and they only need to move twice for the day,” he said.
As it relates to student response, the Principal said that some were initially apprehensive but noted that as the day progressed they became more comfortable.
“I think there was some level of concern but by the time we spoke to them and they got to meet their teachers during the first session, you could see their old selves coming back in terms of the happiness in their eyes and the joy at being at school,” Mr. Wellington said.
“They are responding well in trying to keep their distance from each other and keeping safe,” he added.