Schools angry

Principals at some of the 17 schools scheduled to be reopened as part of a two-week face-to-face pilot are fuming, as they say they had not been consulted by the Ministry of Education which announced the list on the weekend.

Yallahs High School Principal Mark Malabver said he and colleagues are “flying in the dark” and accused the ministry of being “untidy” in how it went about the matter.

According to Malabver, he found out that Yallahs is to be a part of the trial run through social media.

The principals of Somerton All-Age School in St James; Troy High and Albert Town High, both in Trelawny, told the Jamaica Observer yesterday that that, too, was their experience.

“I wasn’t aware, and I am certain as well that my other principal colleagues, certainly at the high school level, were not aware that we were a part of the pilot. What I got was a letter sent to me via social media. Apparently, it was a letter from the [education ministry’s] PS (permanent secretary) to the PS of Health and Wellness [ministry] listing the schools,” Malabver stated.

Education Minister Fayval Williams announced during a press conference last week that students at 17 schools are to resume face-to-face classes on a trial basis between November 9 and 20 in the parishes of Clarendon, Manchester, Portland, St Ann, St Elizabeth, St James, Westmoreland, St Thomas, and Trelawny. More than 5,000 students are enrolled in the selected schools.

At the time of Williams’ announcement the schools were not named.

However, a letter dated October 29, 2020 — addressed to Ministry of Health and Wellness’s Permanent Secretary Dunstan Bryan and which made the rounds on social media — listed the schools expected to participate.

It was signed by acting permanent secretary in the education ministry Dr Grace McLean, who asked for the health ministry’s assistance in inspecting the schools, the assignment of COVID-19 response teams in the event of a suspected case, and communication to the education ministry where areas of concern are noted.

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