Madame Speaker,

It is with great sadness that I report the deaths of a few of our children over the past few days:

• Jade-Ann Mclean, 13-year-old student who attended Brown’s Town High School (daughter of Kadean Howard)

• Rihanna Howard 14-year-old student who attended Marcus Garvey Technical High School along with their relatives Kadean Howard 34-year-old (sister of Rihanna) and Jason Gayle (common law husband of Kadean Howard)

• 9 year old Alifia Timbawala of St. Judes Primary died on Saturday from leukemia

• 5 year old DeAndre ‘Jaydon’ Peterkin from Flanker St. James who died in a fire. He was a student at Providence Basic School.

Our sincerest condolences to the families. The MoEYI has been in touch with families to offer phychosocial support and condolences letters are being prepared.

Death of our children is never easy and so we mourn for these children as though they were our own. Infact, Madame Speaker, they are our own children our nation’s children. May their souls rest in peace.

I am pleased to bring another update to the House on the steps being taken by the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information to ensure the continued education of our students.

Madame Speaker, this morning (Nov 10th), 15 schools reopened for face-to-face teaching under a pilot programme that will allow us to gain confidence in having our students and teachers back in the physical classroom as we live through this covid-19 pandemic. Yallahs High School in St. Thomas did not open as a result of flooding on the school grounds and more time needed to make arrangements after the flooding. Moore Town Primary & Junior High School in Portland has also requested that they open tomorrow. That is quite understandable, Madame Speaker.

The 17 schools are:
1. Steer Town Primary and Junior High School, St. Ann
2. Somerton All-Age and Infant School, St. James
3. Newcombe Valley Primary School, St. Elizabeth
4. Morgan’s Forest Primary and Infant, Clarendon
5. Mile Gully Primary School, Manchester
6. Kemps Hill High School, Clarendon
7. Garlogie Primary and Junior High, Clarendon
8. Chatsworth Primary and Infant School, St. James
9. Chantilly Primary School, Westmoreland
10. Bethlehem All Age and Infant School, St. Elizabeth
11. Ballards Valley Primary School, St. Elizabeth
12. Alston High School, Clarendon
13. Moore Town Primary & Junior High School, Portland
14. Chalky Hill All Age, St. Ann
15. Devon Primary, Manchester
16. Moneague Primary and Junior High, St. Ann
17. Yallahs High School, St. Thomas

In preparation for the phased resumption of face-to-face learning, the Ministry activated its processes with principals. At a meeting held on November 6, 2020, principals gave the assurance that they were ensuring that their schools were fully prepared for the reopening on Monday, November 9, 2020. This reopening was delayed by a day however, given the prevailing weather conditions over the past weekend and the challenges dealing with flooding in some areas. All schools received a satisfactory inspection from the Ministry of Health and Wellness.

Madame Speaker, 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.

Accommodations have been made for teachers and students with comorbidities. For example, the teacher with comorbidity or other issues would stay at home and provide the lessons remotely with the help of another teacher in-the classroom. Psychosocial sessions have commenced for the students and we will continue to ensure the fears, and anxiety of the stakeholders are addressed.

Furniture for schools have been delivered to ensure the observance of the social distancing protocol and obsolete items were removed from the school grounds.

The schools will have a staggered resumption with different year groups reporting on different days. The high schools and a few of the primary schools will utilise the rotational approach guided by the blended learning model.

Madame Speaker, the Ministry has also put in a place a rigorous programme to assist in the monitoring and evaluation of the pilot of the 17 schools to reopen for face-to-face classes.

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