Wed | Jun 7, 2023

Primary schools gear up for full face-to-face

Published:Monday | March 7, 2022 | 12:11 AMOlivia Brown/Gleaner Writer
Avalyn Henry
Avalyn Henry
Violet Thomas-Thompson
Violet Thomas-Thompson

With the full resumption of face-to-face classes today, some schools are still being handicapped by furniture shortage.

Violet Thomas-Thompson, president of the Primary and Infant School Principals Association disclosed that the challenge has persisted, with institutions opting to dispose of dual-seat benches amid social-distancing protocols amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It’s not even to facilitate the single seating alone. It was also because of termites, so those schools who would have gotten rid of their dual seats, they need furniture,” she said in a Gleaner interview on Sunday.

Thomas-Thompson is, however, anticipating an early resolution to that concern, noting that the education ministry has indicated that furniture deliveries were under way.

The principals association head said, too, that space issues could emerge at several schools with rising student populations. This, she said, could have arisen from the relocation of families because of economic fallout associated with the pandemic.

“Some persons would be out of jobs, so they migrated to different parishes, so these children have to be facilitated at other schools,” she said.

Avalyn Henry, principal of Osborne Store Primary and Junior High School, said that colleague teachers and administrators have expressed concerns about space.

She said, however, that the discontinuation of the junior high cohort has alleviated those challenges at Osborne Store.

There are “mixed” emotions about the full resumption of in-person classes, said Henry.

The principal said that staff are enthused about re-engaging all students on the compound but acknowledged that health concerns linger.

“The whole fear with the pandemic is one issue. When [the students] come off the taxis, many of them have their masks in their hands or in their pockets,” she said.

Henry said plans are in place to facilitate students who are not able to return physically because of illness. She lauded the school’s homework programme for bridging the learning gap.

With 320 students enrolled, Henry said that administering temperature checks could be tedious. Recess times will also pose a challenge, causing more logistical headaches for administrators in the rotational movement of grades.

“With all these children coming in, human resource is a problem here because you have to have persons at the gate doing temperature checks, and that’s for all persons coming in,” she told The Gleaner.

“... Now that we will have everybody, it’s going to be harder because children are really social beings and many of them are happy to be at school.”

All is ready to go for the team at Beulah All-Age School in New Longville, Clarendon.

Principal Nadine Gayle-Little told The Gleaner on Sunday that staff have planned to roll out a grand welcome celebration for students and teachers.

Gayle-Little said that while the school anticipates old furniture to be replaced, they are making use of the current stock.

“We had our furniture in storage, but when we pulled them out, none of them was infested with termites or had rusted to the point where we could not clean them up and reuse them,” she said.

Schools with established shift systems have an additional two weeks to streamline their operations to facilitate the full resumption of face-to-face classes, Dr Kasan Troupe, acting chief education officer in the Ministry of Education and Youth, has said.