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There will be no face-to-face classes on the first teaching day of the new school year, Monday, September 6. Students will be taught remotely.

This was announced by Minister of Education, Youth and Information, Hon. Fayval Williams, while addressing a virtual Parents’ Town Hall Meeting on Vaccination on Tuesday (August 31).

Ms. Williams said she is aware that parents and students are anxious to return to face-to-face classes, “but we are not quite there yet”, stressing that the objective in the education system is to return students to this mode as quickly and as safely as possible.

“We still have to wait to see how these COVID numbers play out and [how] the Ministry of Health and Wellness advises us. We are doing everything to continue to ensure that our children receive education even during this pandemic… [hence] our children will still have access to education via the online mode, via our learning kit and via the audio-visual platforms that we have,” she said.

The announcement comes as parents are taking their children to vaccination centres to be inoculated.

A total of 37,285 children aged 12 years and older have received the first dose of the Pfizer vaccine against the coronavirus (COVID-19) as at Tuesday (August 31).

This follows a vaccination blitz that was held on Saturday (August 21) and which focuses on children 12 and over with comorbidities and students aged 15 to 18 who will be sitting exit exams.

Minister Williams commended the students and their parents for responding to the call to get vaccinated “to protect themselves against hospitalisation and possible death in the event they contract the COVID-19 virus.

“We believe it is prudent for our students and their families to get this added layer of protection in order to ensure safe attendance for face-to-face engagement,” Ms. Williams said.

The Pfizer vaccine has been approved for use in children and teens and Jamaica has received 208,260 doses as part of an allocation of more than 600,000 doses from the United States of America.

In the meantime, the Education Minister is imploring more teachers, as well all other persons who work in the education sector, to get vaccinated

“Whether you are the security guard at the gate who helps to take temperature [and administer] sanitization, whether you are the groundsman, whether you are the maintenance person, the cook, administrator… we also implore persons who work within the education sector to be vaccinated,” she said.

Ms. Williams is also advising all citizens to continue to adhere to the COVID-19 safety protocols, namely frequent handwashing and/or sanitising, social distancing and the wearing of masks.

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