It was a smooth start for face-to-face lessons at the Somerton All-Age and Infant School in St. James on Tuesday (November 10), as students returned to the classroom for the first time since the closure of schools in March, due to the coronavirus (COVID-19).
Sixty-two students and 18 teachers turned out for classes at the institution, which is one of 17 primary and secondary schools across the island participating in the Government’s two-week pilot programme.
The two-week pilot was scheduled to start on Monday, November 9, but was delayed due to inclement weather across the island.
Speaking with JIS News, Principal of the school, Glendon Brydson, said students are being facilitated on a rotational basis and are required to wear masks in classes as well as when they move around the school compound.
Hands are also sanitised and temperatures checked before students and staff enter the school.
Mr. Brydson informed that the first day of classes was smooth sailing, noting that the school’s established protocols were approved by a team from the Ministry of Health and Wellness that visited the institution.
He pointed out that preparations were made from as early as September to ensure that the environment is safe for students and staff.
“We have installed additional wash stations, installed additional sanitisation stations and we have arranged for all the classes we are going to be using to have the specified physical distancing. We had to move some of our classrooms into the [school] hall where we always have our assembly, and now the hall is to hold two grade-one classes. We have changed our resource room into a classroom, so those are the additional things we put in place and we have renovated a section of the hall, which we use as our isolation area,” he explained.
The Principal said he is pleased that the school was selected to participate in the pilot project.
“We think that it is better for the students to be face to face because of the problem of connectivity. Some students are without devices, so they will now be able to come to meet face-to-face with their teachers, so they won’t have the issue of connectivity hampering the learning process,” Mr. Brydson said.
Meanwhile, gßrade-six student at the institution, Donte Johnson, told JIS News that he is elated to be back at school, as face-to-face learning is less challenging.
“It feels amazing. Online school feels nice, but face to face feels better, because with online school, some of the students are turning off their camera and they are muting their mics and teacher doesn’t know what they are doing – if they are paying attention or if they are just playing. It is amazing to see everyone. You can talk to them and say hi.
It is also nice to see your teacher; you can talk to her, you can ask her questions,” he shared.
Another grade-six student, Cordelia Stewart, said face-to-face learning is the best option for students and she was happy to be back in the physical classroom space.
“I think it’s a great opportunity for students beecause with the Internet problems, sometimes we don’t get what the teachers say. The Internet might come off, and I think it’s better face to face. You get to see most of your friends. I really like it and I think the learning is a little bit better,” she said.