Growing concern as second student tests positive for COVID-19 at Campion College

Concern is growing among parents following confirmation that a second student at Campion College in Jamaica tested positive for COVID-19.

In an e-mail sent on February 1, the school confirmed that a lower sixth form student had contracted the virus.

According to principal Grace Baston, the student was last at school on Thursday (February 4) and, at that time, was not displaying symptoms.

“Although under these circumstances the risk of transmission to other students would be low, we have been advised by the Ministry of Health to treat his case as we did the first,” she said.

Some parents argue that the school not closing for a deep cleaning exercise is concerning, while others added they are uncomfortable with the principal’s mode of operation.

One group explained that given the two recorded cases, additional consideration should have been given to greater online use, including for some exams.

A concerned parent told BUZZ she felt those not in agreement with the principal’s stance on exams have been painted in an “uncooperative light”, when they were just perturbed by the rise in COVID-19 cases.

The parent points to an e-mail dated February 9 in which the principal said they have the option of keeping students at home, but they will be marked absent.

“Parents who are uncomfortable with having their children at school for their examinations have the option to keep them at home. The students will be marked absent for exams, once the school receives written communication from parents indicating that this is their choice,” read the email.

According to the parent, that response is not a solution to concerns about the health risks associated with physical school.

While recognising the school’s explanation that it does not have the  required “special proctoring software” to “ensure the authenticity of students’ work”, some parents believe this represents an opportunity to collaborate for a solution.

However, the group of parents say rather than a more collaborative approach to the issue highlighted, the school’s posture has been “‘take it or leave it’”.

Another parent, who asked not to be identified, said the parents’ concerns are increasingly being viewed in a hostile manner that makes him feel uncomfortable, citing an e-mail sent out Friday (February 12) which seems to suggests that parents should not voice their concerns.

“The real flag bearers for the HSA in this venture have been Mrs [name removed] and her small team – wonderful exemplars of the spirit of a true Campionite. While others around them have taken a different approach, their generous stance has consistently been ‘How can we help?”. We cannot thank them enough!,” read the email sent out by the school.

“As a school administration, there is absolutely nothing to be gained by hiding cases in a time as serious as this one. We rely on factual information shared by parents/guardians, not rumours, and consult immediately with the relevant government officials before taking action. Anonymous photographs and critiques that circulate on social media are generally unhelpful,” added Baston in the email.

According to the parent, it feels as though the principal is “trying to silence our very real concerns”, noting that the language and tone of the e-mail was “distasteful”.

“It felt as though she was taking aim at the parents not in agreement with her position,” added another disgruntled parent.

The school’s administration has said given the rise in COVID-19 cases, only  three grade levels – 4th, 5th and 6th forms –  will be permitted on campus at a time, adding that after the mid-terms, first formers will revert to online lessons, and fourth formers will return to campus on the weekly rotational model.