Jamaica begins phased reopening of schools on Nov. 9

Jamaica will begin the phased reopening of schools on November 9.

The reopening will start with a two-week pilot of 17 primary and secondary schools, with a total population of around 5,800 students, across nine parishes.

The announcement was made by Minister of Education, Fayval Williams, during a media briefing at Jamaica House a short while ago.

The schools were selected from a group of 73 deemed to be at low risk for coronavirus transmission based on variables considered by the ministry.

However, as a matter of caution, only about 20 per cent of the schools were included in the project based on the number of students – almost 58,000 – who would have been heading back for face-to-face lessons.

The names of the selected schools were not provided as discussions are ongoing with the respective administrations, Williams shared.

With the reopening, COVID-19 protocols, including temperature checks, distance markers, social distancing practices and hand sanitiser stations, must be implemented, Williams said. Additionally, the wearing of masks will be mandatory.

Williams ended by saying the education sector will not conquer COVID without cooperation.

Earlier, Prime Minister Andrew Holness said there is a “sobering understanding that the pandemic…is threating to have a devastating impact on our educational system because already we had an unequal system and what is going to happen now, six months out of school, is that the problem is going to be exacerbated.”

Holness further said the move to a virtual platform made previous inequalities in the system even more glaring, with many schools reporting less than 50 per cent attendance for online classes.