Minister of Education, Youth and Information, Hon. Fayval Williams, says that a rigorous programme has been put in place for the monitoring and evaluation of the face-to-face classes, which are being piloted in 17 schools.
The tools include a Monitoring & Evaluation Plan, Monitoring & Evaluation Visitation Schedule (Data Collectors), School Resumption Observation Schedule & Checklist, Principal Interview Schedule, and Protocol for Administering Data Collection Instrument.
“This evaluation will be conducted to determine the extent to which the reopening of the 17 schools during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic… was done efficiently,” Mrs. Williams said.
“It aims to facilitate evidence-based decision-making to determine the successes and highlight further consideration that needs to be given for the full and/or partial resumption of face-to-face instruction for the education system as a whole,” Mrs. Williams said addressing the siting of the House of Representatives on November 10 at the Jamaica Conference Centre, downtown Kingston.
She noted that for the purpose of the evaluation, the Ministry’s Planning and Development Division will seek responses from all students and teaching staff in the 17 schools using electronic questionnaires.
The questionnaires will be shared through the Ministry-provided email addresses, the regional school improvement officers, supervision education officers and general education officers.
The population of students and teachers that attend face-to-face classes will be targeted for response. Parents of students will be asked to be present when students complete the questionnaires. All 17 schools will be visited by data collectors and the principals (or vice principals) will be interviewed.
Mrs. Williams outlined that data collectors will gather both quantitative and qualitative-type information for monitoring purposes.
Officers from the Planning and Development Division will participate in the active monitoring exercises to provide systematic feedback at different intervals within the two-week period.
Meanwhile, the Minister is reporting that it was a smooth start for 15 of the 17 schools selected for face-to-face teaching.
The pilot was initially set to begin on Monday (November 9), but, due to heavy rains, was postponed to November 10.
Yallahs High School in St. Thomas did not open as a result of flooding on the school grounds and Moore Town Primary & Junior High School in Portland had requested to open on November 11.
All schools received a satisfactory inspection from the Ministry of Health and Wellness.
“Through our regional directors, we received reports that the parents and teachers have expressed support for the pilot initiative, and some physically assisted with the preparatory activities,” Minister Williams told the House.
She informed that accommodations have been made for teachers and students with comorbidities.
“A teacher with comorbidity or other issues would stay at home and provide the lessons remotely with the help of another teacher in-the classroom,” she said.
She noted that psychosocial sessions have also commenced for students.
In addition, furniture for schools have been delivered to ensure the observance of the social distancing protocol and obsolete items were removed from school grounds.
Mrs. Williams informed that the schools will have a staggered resumption with different year groups reporting on different days, noting that high schools and a few of the primary schools will utilise the rotational approach guided by the blended learning.
The blended approach, involving online classes, audiovisual means (television, cable network and radio) and the provision of learning kits, will continue to be utilised by all schools, including the 17 pilot institutions, if needed.