Temp checks, dis­tance mark­ers greet Pem­broke Hall stu­dents

Jamaica Gleaner - - NEWS - Ju­dana Mur­phy/Gleaner Writer ju­dana.mur­phy@glean­erjm.com

“IT’S A mix­ture of emo­tions. I’m ner­vous and I’m ex­tremely ex­cited,” said RuthAnn Find­lay yes­ter­day af­ter re­turn­ing to school three months af­ter COVID-19 con­tain­ment mea­sures re­sulted in the sus­pen­sion of phys­i­cal classes.

“Com­ing to school today, af­ter not see­ing your friends for months, it was hard not to just jump on them and hug them,” the head girl of Pem­broke Hall High School in St An­drew told The Gleaner shortly af­ter the day got go­ing yes­ter­day.

Sec­ondary schools across Ja­maica have been re­opened for four weeks to fa­cil­i­tate re­fresher classes for stu­dents sit­ting ex­ter­nal ex­am­i­na­tions, which will com­mence in a month’s time.

Ruth-Ann shared that while she was ini­tially wor­ried that some stu­dents would not ob­serve the phys­i­cal-dis­tanc­ing guide­lines, “that fear has some­how sub­sided”.

Yellow cir­cles and grey rec­tan­gles were seen around the com­pound, in­di­cat­ing where to stand and where seats should be placed, re­spec­tively.

Manda­tory tem­per­a­ture checks were con­ducted at the gate and walk­ing in sin­gle file is a prac­tice stu­dents are get­ting used to.

The Rev­erend Claude El­lis, prin­ci­pal of the school, told The Gleaner that roughly 120 stu­dents were ex­pected to turn up yes­ter­day and there was about 80 per cent at­ten­dance.


The process went smoothly apart from two hic­cups – stu­dents ar­riv­ing at school hours be­fore their sched­uled classes and others showed up without masks.

How­ever, the prin­ci­pal noted that dis­pos­able masks pro­vided by the health min­istry were is­sued to those without the pro­tec­tive gear.

“We are a so­cial group and so the chal­lenge is get­ting the stu­dents to re­main dis­tant, and so it’s al­most like you’re polic­ing the stu­dents. We ac­tu­ally have in­di­vid­u­als who are as­signed so­cial-dis­tanc­ing mon­i­tors be­cause we know how stu­dents are, we are a cul­ture of hold and touch and be­ing close to each other,” El­lis said.

Fol­low­ing an ori­en­ta­tion ses­sion, stu­dents headed to see what their new-look so­cially dis­tant class­rooms were like and in most class­rooms, only 15 stu­dents were ac­com­mo­dated.

Dar­rion An­der­son was more than happy to be back in a phys­i­cal class­room as he said he did not grasp much from on­line classes.

“I pre­fer to be in a class­room set­ting with a teacher be­cause I’m a vis­ual learner,” he said, adding that in­for­ma­tion tech­nol­ogy was his most chal­leng­ing sub­ject.

An­der­son at­tempted past pa­per ques­tions dur­ing the time spent at home and hopes to be well pre­pared for the ex­ams at the end of the re­vi­sion classes.

Fel­low stu­dent Tasheika Mes­sam said she was 80 per cent ready for ex­ams and has com­pleted all her school-based as­sess­ments (SBAs).

“I have stud­ied over the break and it has helped me to be more at­ten­tive to my school­work. The min­istry is giv­ing us an op­por­tu­nity to in­ter­act more with our teach­ers face to face and to get more help, and I am very grate­ful for that,” she told The Gleaner.

Grade 11 co­or­di­na­tor Jodi-Ann Car­nagie ex­plained that a lec­ture-tu­to­rial for­mat has been adopted.

Stu­dents will at­tend timetabled classes Mon­days to Thurs­days, and Fri­days are set aside for SBA com­ple­tion.


Prem­broke Hall High School stu­dents gather in the au­di­to­rium yes­ter­day for an English class in prepa­ra­tion for their up­com­ing Caribbean Sec­ondary Ed­u­ca­tion Cer­tifi­cate ex­ams.

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