The Regional Director of the education ministry’s Region Six, which include schools in and around Linstead in St. Catherine, has outlined plans to ensure there is a smooth start to the new school year in her region despite the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19).
Sophia Forbes Hall explained the major plans on August 5 at Dinthill Technical High School, where she addressed a meeting of the Association of Principals and Chairmen of North West St. Catherine.
Schools in St. Catherine North West fall within a cluster, which the education ministry calls the Quality Education Circle (QEC) 53.
Schools in that QEC already received a special grant to help them prepare for re-opening in September amid COVID-19, the regional director said.
She added: “All schools in the QEC received their educational resources two weeks ago, and specifically I want to mention here that the ministry made a special grant available for sanitation and maintenance and just general support as part of our response to COVID-19 protocols. So, there is $500,000 special grant for primary schools and $1.6 million for high schools.”
The regional director further told the gathering that a stakeholder meeting was held recently with representatives of Government entities, including those responsible for water distribution, garbage collection and general public health.
“The critical areas were noted and the representatives at the stakeholder meeting from these agencies are now in direct contact with our schools to see how best they can support them as they reopen in September,” she disclosed.
Hall also outlined the phased implementation plan for the reopening of schools to ensure challenges regarding COVID-19 are mitigated.
These are the important dates she gave:
September 7 to September 11, 2020 – This period will be used for simulation or orientation to test the system in place to slow the spread of COVID-19. Hall stated that, depending on the school times, two different peer groups of students may be accommodated on the same day.
September 14 to September 25, 2020 – only the upper school students should report to school. Those students are in Grade Four to Grade Six in primary schools, and Grade Nine to Grade 11 in secondary schools.
September 28, 2020 – Students in Grade One to Grade Three, and Grade Seven to Grade Eight should resume attending school.
October 26, 2020 – Students in Grades 12 and 13 should report to school. In this regard, Hall noted that CXC results will be released by September 22, 2020.
The regional director, in the meantime, stated that school boards will be allowed to exercise flexibility.
“We are quite aware that our schools require flexibility in order to ensure our schools are managed at the standards in which we expect our board of management to manage them… We always encourage our chairmen and our principals to make contact with their education officers in the regional office for further clarity on any documentation that we send into the system,” she further said.
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