The coronavirus COVID-19 has laid bare the digital divide among Jamaican school children. From access to devices to internet connectivity to the supervision of children and the fatigue caused by the extended period at homes. And after just two weeks of school, there are increased calls from parents, students and teachers for the Government to reconsider face to face learning at some institutions to close this gap.
Despite efforts to keep students connected to school via online learning environments, the last two week in the academic school term has left some students offline, forcing the Government to reconsider its decision on face-face-learning.
For one parent in Majesty Garden, she explains that despite her son having access to a smart device, he still needs supervision which was usually provided by schools.
The woman who operates a small food and bar business in the community says she is not able to assist her child with his assignments nor is she able to monitor him due to her work.
She worries that her child will get left behind. Having recently passed the Primary Exit Profile Examination, she explained that she was not expecting his first day of high school over the internet, which often enough is spotty connection.
For one student who attends the Clan Clarty High School, she explains that she too has to assist her mother who has a business and her younger brother who also has school online.
Frustrated, the student explains that there is not enough time to learn, alluding to the 30 minute- teaching sessions as well as the limited time for feedback from teachers.
Prime Minister Andrew Holiness says cabinet is to assess the risk of face to face learning during the community transmission phase of the virus.
Priority is expected to be placed on schools with smaller population, disabilities, risk of spread and infrastructure to facilitate physical learning among others.
And for those who are fearful of sending their children to school, they will have to be facilitated in the virtual classroom.
But while cabinet mulls over the decision, there are those students who are on the wrong side of the digital divide, waiting to cross over.
CVM LIVE‘s Jamaila Maitland reports: