Minister of Education, Youth and Information, Hon. Fayval Williams, says the new school term, which began on Monday (January 3), got off to a good start with lessons being delivered via online and face-to-face learning modalities.
She informed that the Easter term commenced with 608 schools opening for face-to-face classes. Of this number, 568 are primary, 10 infant and 30 secondary schools across all seven regions.
“There are still many schools that are in the online mode so we have 173 primary schools and 120 secondary schools that have engaged students using the online modality,” Mrs. Williams noted, while addressing a virtual post-Cabinet press briefing on Wednesday (January 5).
The Education Minister pointed out that so far, the majority of schools that are back in the face-to-face environment have reported no issues.
“There are … 23 schools that reported that students or teachers … called in to say that they have flu-like symptoms and were remaining at home,” she said.
She noted as well that one principal had tested positive for the coronavirus (COVID-19) and is remaining at home, and in another instance, a teacher informed of being quarantined at home.
In terms of the turnout of pupils for face-to-face classes, Mrs. Williams said that full attendance is being reported in the smaller primary schools, while attendance in the larger schools is relatively low.
“But, again, these are early days in terms of school reopening and because schools are using the rotation approach and the staggered resumption, this is what we would expect. As the days go by, we’re expecting to see more and more of our students back into the face-to-face environment,” she said.
In the meantime, Mrs. Williams informed that despite the vaccination efforts, which saw over 200 vaccinations blitzes being conducted across secondary schools, only 32 per cent of the secondary cohort was vaccinated up to the end of December.
“We are still continuing vaccination efforts in our schools but … that 65 per cent target is something still to be worked towards. However, we have indicated that all students can come back into the face-to-face environment,” she said.
The Education Minister continues to advise Jamaicans to get vaccinated against COVID-19.
“The truth of the matter is, we can end this pandemic. We know it’s within our reach to do so but we have to do those things that will cause it to end and one of those is to become vaccinated,” she stressed.
She further implored parents and adults, in general, to emulate students who have been adhering to the COVID-19 protocols.
“I think our children get it. When I see them in school and even outside of school … they get the mask wearing, they get the hand washing, they get the physical distancing. It is incumbent on us as adults and as parents to follow their lead to protect ourselves, to protect them and to get the vaccines,” she said.
The Education Minister pointed out that billions of people around the world have taken the vaccines and they remain strong and healthy.