The Ministry of Education Youth and Information (MoEYI) wishes to advise that independent schools that received letters from the Ministry of Health and Wellness indicating they have met the standards for certification and reopened their schools on the basis of those letters are not in violation of the MoEYI’s remote learning advisory. The enforcement measures Order under the Disaster Risk Management Act specifically allows in-person instruction.
Consultations with representatives of independent schools were held on Monday, October 5, and on Wednesday, October 7 where members got an opportunity to share with Minister Fayval Williams the challenges and uniqueness of their operations.
It is important to the Ministry that the needs of all our children are met as best as possible. Many of Jamaica’s independent schools cater to the needs of children with special needs and these children are not well served with online or remote learning. Independent schools also provide essential services to our children who cannot learn from the three (3) teaching approaches previously outlined.
The MoEYI therefore apologizes for any inconvenience caused to the four schools that were named in a Nationwide News Network interview and will continue to support these and other independent schools in this very difficult period.
The following is an excerpt from Minister Williams’ statement in Parliament on Tuesday, October 6, 2020 that puts this in context: “Our independent schools are hurting financially. They have some unique challenges to which our Ministry must respond. Many of our independent schools serve many special needs children for whom the three (3) approaches we outlined are not ideal. Others would have invested heavily in significantly improving the safety of their environment for face-to-face classes. These independent schools exist and find ways to keep themselves going financially as a result of decisions and choices that parents make to fund the tuition and so these schools do not make a call on the government’s purse. We could learn from those who opened their doors on September 7 and remained open in a very safe way, in many cases providing transportation to students without access.
Even as our public school students remain at home until such time as the JTA, the Principals’ Associations of Secondary Schools and the National Parents Teachers Association of Jamaica are comfortable in allowing our children to access face-to-face instruction, we must find ways to accommodate the diversity of schools that exists in our education sector.
Over the next days, the MoEYI and MoHW will be having consultations with our diverse group of schools to look at their unique situations and ensure they are in compliance with the Disaster Risk Management Act protocols every day and that parents understand their responsibilities and the uncertainties of the pandemic.”