Jamaican gov’t targets September for resumption of face-to-face classes


The Government of Jamaica is targeting a full resumption of face-to-face education for the new school year in September.

This is according to Prime Minister Andrew Holness, who was addressing a virtual Town Hall on Vaccine Sensitisation for the Education System on Friday.

“We are preparing for that (face-to-face classes); the Ministry of Education (Youth and Information) is ready for that; we want our teachers to be ready for that,” Holness said, noting that the decision to return to face-to-face instruction will be driven by the public health science and balanced by the social and economic imperatives.

“The Cabinet of Jamaica…takes into consideration all the recommendations that come from the Ministry of Education, from the Ministry of Health (and Wellness), from the Ministry of Finance (and the Public Service) as we balance them because at the end of the day, we don’t want you to survive coronavirus (COVID-19) and die of hunger — that’s the stark reality.

“So we want you to survive COVID and still have your job; we want you to survive COVID and still be educated,” the prime minister said.

He, however, noted a potential third wave of infections but said vaccination could help to prevent that.

“If on the next weekend (it is reported) that we have 80 to 90 per cent of our teachers vaccinated, then we would be on a good run to ensure that come September, we could have the schools re-opened,” he said.

Holness further noted that in August more people should be able to get vaccinated as the country should have more supplies of COVID-19 vaccines.

“I want the country to appreciate that we want to go back to face-to-face but it all depends on how you behave (and) the decisions you make,” he said.

Face-to-face learning was suspended in March 2020 following the first reported case of the COVID-19 in Jamaica. However, in November 2020, the Government tested a phased reintroduction of face-to-face classes which was then halted a few months due to a virus spike. Only students preparing for exit examinations were then permitted to have in-person classes which was once again suspended in March 2021 but schools reopened in May to accommodate students sitting exit examinations this year.

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