Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Andrew Holness says the Government is preparing for the full resumption of face-to-face education in the new school year in September.
“We are preparing for that (face-to-face classes); the Ministry of Education (Youth and Information) is ready for that; we want our teachers to be ready for that,” he said while addressing a virtual Town Hall on Vaccine Sensitisation for the Education System on Friday (June 11).
Mr. Holness noted that the decision to return to face-to-face instruction will be driven by the public health science, but it will also have to be balanced by the social and economic imperatives.
“The Cabinet of Jamaica…takes into consideration all the recommendations that come from the Ministry of Education, from the Ministry of Health (and Wellness), from the Ministry of Finance (and the Public Service) as we balance them because at the end of the day, we don’t want you to survive coronavirus (COVID-19) and die of hunger – that’s the stark reality,” he said.
“So we want you to survive COVID and still have your job; we want you to survive COVID and still be educated,” the Prime Minister added.
He noted that while things could change where there is a third wave (of COVID-19 infections), things could “work out for the better,” if for example, more Jamaicans get vaccinated.
“If on the next weekend (it is reported) that we have 80 to 90 per cent of our teachers vaccinated, then we would be on a good run to ensure that come September, we could have the schools re-opened,” he said.
The Prime Minister said it is projected that in August, the country should have some supplies of COVID-19 vaccines that would allow for more persons to be vaccinated.
“I want the country to appreciate that we want to go back to face-to-face but it all depends on how you behave (and) the decisions you make,” he said.
Face-to-face learning was suspended in March 2020, when the first case of COVID-19 was confirmed in the island, with instruction continuing remotely.
The Government implemented a pilot programme for the phased reintroduction of in-person teaching in November 2020, which was halted in late February 2021, as cases of the virus spiked, with only students preparing for exit examinations engaged in in-person classes.
All face-to-face classes were again suspended from March to April. Schools were again opened for face to face instruction in May, to accommodate students sitting exit examinations this year.