The administration of the St. Ann’s Bay Primary School in St. Ann welcomed back its students on Monday (January 10) in fine style by rolling out a red carpet.
The entrance to the school was transformed into a glamorous space using balloon arrangements, to make the first day of face-to-face learning since the advent of the coronavirus in March 2020 an extra-special occasion for the students.
The children were greeted by school principal Trevor Cole, teachers and members of the Parent-Teacher Association (PTA), as they strolled down the red carpet to their respective classes.
Speaking with JIS News, Mr. Cole stated that the gesture was geared towards motivating the students and “allowing them to feel appreciated and to know that we’re here ready to facilitate them for their learning and development.
“…we welcomed them in style because we wanted them to feel special. They would have been home for so long and we believe that it is absolutely important that our students get a sense that the school to which they come to learn is excited to have them back in this space,” Mr. Cole said.
He says it was a seamless return to face-to-face learning, owing to hours of strategic planning to devise the best possible approach to accommodate the students.
The school usually operates on a shift system and has a student population of 1,066.
“We have spent long hours planning, refining, reviewing and just trying to find the best possible approach. Yes, we have always had a space challenge, and that compounded the problem… but we have had to do some retrofitting to existing spaces to facilitate our students,” he said.
“I believe this opportunity will enable us to see more of our students, so that we can continue with the business of teaching and learning and ensure that our students at a primary level are sufficiently equipped to move on to the next level, which is high school,” Mr. Cole added.
The Principal informed that while a blended rotation model is being utilised, he is happy students will have the opportunity to interact with their teachers.
Three grades will be accommodated at school each day, while others will continue learning online.
“Our grade-six students will be here for the entire week but they will come on a rotational basis, meaning that group A will come one day and group B comes next day and it is rotated. So there will be a balance in terms of online and face-to-face instructions,” Mr. Cole explains.
“We have also paired grade five, with grade six to enable them to be here every day for the first month of school and then for today (Monday) and tomorrow (Tuesday) we’ll be facilitating grade one, and Wednesday and Thursday we will be doing grade two. The next week, grades five and six will continue and then we will integrate the other grades, that is grade three and grade four,” the principal said.
He added that there will be strict enforcement of the health and safety protocols, including mask wearing, social distancing and proper washing of hands.
Meanwhile, students and teachers have expressed joy to be back in the classroom.
Grade-five teacher Adrian Henry was happy to interact with his students in the physical space, noting that they have suffered significant learning loss due to connectivity issues.
“It is a pleasure to be back in the classroom. One of the ways students will benefit from this is real-time feedback. No glitch in connectivity, no delay in WhatsApp messaging, no checking Google Classroom…; if there’s an issue with teaching and learning then all matters can be resolved immediately,” Mr. Henry indicated.
Grade-five student Leonardo Harrison revealed that he is happy to see his friends and teachers.
“Now that we are going into face-to-face, I can see my friends and also I can learn better because the online was no good… . Also, when teacher is sending the work it takes a long time to come in…. So face-to-face is good; you could see the board and you could learn better,” he said.