The Lorna Otto Prep School in Rosehall district is among the first educational institutions allowed to resume face-to-face classes in the Linstead area of St. Catherine; this after it scored full marks in an assessment undertaken by the Ministry of Health.
The government is now allowing students to return to schools that meet its established guidelines, which are aimed at minimizing the spread of the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19).
The highly contagious virus resulted in the closure of schools across the island since March.
Some educational institutions later resorted to online teaching.
Principal at the privately owned Lorna Otto Prep, Mikhail Solomon, told The Beacon: “We have our school inspected by the Ministry of Health; we were blessed to score full marks in the inspection.”
He added that face-to-face classes resumed at the institution on Monday, November 9.
Solomon said about 60 percent of the 132 students on roll have opted to utilize face-to-face classes. The others are continuing online classes, which have been ongoing since September.
The principal added: “For those students who feel more comfortable at home, we stream from our classrooms. WiFi is installed in all our classrooms, so we do have our face-to-face and we try to stream to the homes. We try to create a balance. If students come in for some days and they want to go online some days, we facilitate that. We have teachers teaching online and teachers teaching face-to-face.”
Solomon said he welcomes the government’s decision to allow face-to-face classes, considering that some students don’t have access to reliable internet connection, and some are differently abled and require special assistance.
The principal noted that the measures implemented at Lorna Otto Prep are influenced by general guidelines provided by Government.
He said the school has done the following:
- Provided rigorous training for staff – including the eight teachers, to ensure they know the different safety and security policies as well as health policies
- Installed wash stands and wall sanitizers
- Ensure students sanitize each time they enter their class
- Created isolation areas
- Retrofitted a sick bay and ensured a nurse is on staff
- Installed screens around each desk used by students. The screens are made of plastic and PVC pipes
- Enforce rigorous mask-wearing and social distancing policies
- Developed a pass system where persons coming onto the school compound undergo rigorous screening, including temperature checks
- Created different entrances for lower school students, upper school students, and visitors
- Serve lunch in classrooms and ensure students are supervised by the nurse when they go on break
- When Physical Education classes start next week, contact sports will not be allowed
Solomon said he is pleasantly surprised that even Grade One students are adhering to the new normal.
“It’s about reinforcing the concept to the kids,” he emphasized. “I think the kids are very compliant because we have morning devotion; we have mid-day meditation – and we reinforce the concept. We don’t have any challenges right now with even social distancing. I was more worried about the Grade One students, but they are doing very well in particular.”
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