The President of the Jamaica Association of Principals of Secondary schools, Linvern Wright, says parental engagement is key in preparing for the back to school period. According to him, with COVID-19 resulting in major disruption across sectors, hearing the concerns of parents can help guide school administrators for the new academic year.

It will be a new normal for students when they return to the classroom in September but school administrators say they are prepared for it and have included parental engagement, in decisions made while being concerned with the safety of students.

“Well we are ready…provided September allows us because you know this COVID-19 behaves the way it wants to behave no one can dictate what will happen,” says Principal Linvern Wright. “The conditions are favourable for us to restart as safely as we can. I think we will be ready because we have been preparing.”

The Education Ministry had indicated there would be a blended learning approach – with online learning to continue for a period – and face to face learning with desks and chairs 6 feet apart. Principal Linvern Wright of William Knibb High school, says although schools may have tested this approach during the CSEC/CAPE period, there were obvious issues with social distancing.

“We are going to have more students now so we have to be looking at a greater level of complexity in terms of dealing with what we are dealing with. Problem-solving skills have to come in. Many of us are thinking of different models – having alternate days when students come in, looking at getting different people in. Principals are looking at many many different possibilities,” added Linvern Wright.

He says principals are implementing the required protocols and measures ahead of students’ return. There have also been meetings with the education ministry and school administrators are prepared.

“We are talking with Dr. Troupe and Directors of regions and the PS are accessible. I am satisfied with the accessibility of these persons.”