The Government is exploring the possibility of providing dedicated transportation for students sitting exit examinations, who will be returning to school for face-to-face instructions next week.
This applies to students doing the Primary Exit Profile (PEP) Ability Test, the Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) examination, the Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examination (CAPE), City and Guilds and the National Vocational Qualification – Jamaica (NVQ-J).
Minister of Education, Youth and Information, Hon. Fayval Williams, who made the disclosure, said this is being looked at as a means of reducing the risk of exposure to the coronavirus (COVID-19) during commute to and from school.
“We have begun to coordinate with our transport providers to see how best we can make available solutions to enable our students to travel to and from school safely. Some of the things we are looking at to see if it is at all possible is for there to be dedicated buses [to transport] our students, especially if we know where the bulk of them are,” she said.
Mrs. Williams, who was addressing a virtual post-Cabinet press briefing on Wednesday (May 5), noted that the Government has to be mindful of the risk of exposure as students commute “and to see how best we can mitigate that”.
The Minister said the Ministry is also looking at starting school at a later time, so that “students don’t have to be commingled with the general population as they move about”.
She noted that the Ministry already coordinates transportation for many rural students who are on the Programme of Advancement Through Health and Education (PATH), so the provision of transportation is not an unusual arrangement.
“What we are doing this time, given that we are in this kind of dangerous point in the COVID-19 pandemic, we want to ensure the safety of all our students, so we will be coordinating with the Jamaica Urban Transit Company (JUTC) in the Corporate Area to see how best we can utilise their system,” the Minister said.
For students in rural areas, Mrs. Williams said the Ministry will need to coordinate with their schools “to again see how best we can help our students, so that they are not in the same vehicle with the general population”.
In the meantime, the Minister is advising students who will be sitting exams and their parents to visit the Education Ministry’s website to input the relevant information required by the Ministry to better assist them.
“We will be launching an app for you to put in your information specifically in terms of where the student is currently and what school they are [attending]. We have quite a bit of information already, but just in case, we have that option available,” she said.
Additionally, Mrs. Williams advised that students should be in contact with their schools regarding arrangements for transportation. “We just want to know where our students are, and so it would help us to better plan for the transportation,” she added.
The Minister further pointed out that students are expected to wear their mask to and from school and while at school, temperature checks will be done at school, and hand-washing stations and sanitisers are to be provided.
“We continue to be in a very crucial point in terms of the COVID-19 pandemic, and so we are asking for extreme care to be taken, especially in the schools as it regards the seating in the classrooms. I am asking our principals [and] teachers to really look at the timetable to ensure that you have proper sequencing of students in our schools, so we don’t have a lot of students at school at any one time,” she said.