Teachers are prepared to go the extra mile to reintegrate students into the classroom as the new academic term commenced on Monday.
This will be done to tackle the major learning loss students suffered when schools across the country were closed to face-to-face sessions due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
DPI visited various schools along the east bank corridor, where teachers detailed plans, they are implementing to help bring their students up to speed.
Headteacher of Peters Hall Primary, Wonita Henry, expressed delight over the reopening of school, as she highlighted the many plans for her students.
“It’s one of the most amazing things. The children are happy to be out again and the teachers are well prepared. As usual, we do our remedial teaching but this year, we implemented a new system. Where we are working with the slow learners in a separate group, so as to push them over the pass mark to get back into the normal stream.”
At the Diamond Secondary School, 78 per cent of students turned out on the first day. The school’s Graduate Senior Mistress Melisa Gordon said majority of the students were at a disadvantage when classes were held online.
“Even though we embrace technology, we can’t deny the facts that lots of our students are at a disadvantage because of connectivity issues in terms of the internet and getting access to devices to attend classes online. So, I am happy that they came back in school fully, where they can continue learning as they use to before the pandemic,” she pointed out.
To this end, Gordon said teachers will we assisting students after school to ensure they are on the path of success.
“We are taking great initiatives to work with them beyond the call of duty to ensure that they get back at least a high percentage so that they can move forward and go on to be successful. Some of the classes will actually be done after school, we will be working with them giving them extra assignments among other activities.”
Houston Secondary School’s Graduate Headmaster Kevin Williamson shared similar sentiments as he highlighted that majority of the student population are from deprived communities.
“The students would’ve lost a lot during that pandemic period. So, I think the reopening of school and having them in the classroom will help them especially students coming from areas that feed our school. Which is a lot of deprived communities so, what we find is a lot of those students were notengaged on the online classroom and so that absences had a negative impact on them learning. So, bringing them back into the classroom will definitely help them in making them successful for life ahead,” he noted.
Further, the headmaster stated that the school will be implementing the Ministry of Education’s consolidated curriculum to reintegrate over 480 students to face-to face learning.
“It will start off with an assessment, we will check to see where the students are and from there, we will know how far back we have to go to bring them to where they are supposed to be,” he said.
Additionally, Assistant Mistress of Grove Primary School, Annalisa Persaud said “I think it is a great idea to have school reopen because the children have been facing a lot of learning loss. I think they have been missing that and the school experience is very important for them. So, it’s a great initiative to have school open fully.”
To address this growing issue, Persaud said the school will be rolling a new curriculum.
“That curriculum allows us to target each child individually so we are excited to have that work. So, that we can look at each child individually and how well their learning preference will go with the curriculum,” she said.
At present, some 610 students returned to the school for the new term.
Meanwhile, parents who accompanied their children welcomed the reopening.
Nicola Griffith said “well, the online learning at home was hitting him back a little. I believe working at school give him a better reaction with teacher kids, helps him to improve better.”
Another parent, Leah Emmanuel shared similar sentiments.
“It’s more convenient because sometimes you’re home and so busy you don’t have the time to help them fully do their work so it’s more convenient to bring them to school.”
Sharon Thomas said with the reopening of school her child is sure to excel.
“Well, I am glad to come out for the first day at school for September. I am glad my child is entering a new class today and I feel so proud. I know she will do it now because the school open all round and when she brings percentage, she will bring more the next term,” she told DPI.
Safety measures and protocols are still in effect to protect students from COVID-19. [Extracted from DPI]