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Editorial: Getting children safely back to school

Opinions & Editorial 19 Aug, 2020 Follow News

Editorial: Getting children safely back to school

The new school year is just weeks away and onsite inspections at Cayman’s government schools have taken place to ensure that they are safe for our young people to attend. Led by the Education Minister, Juliana O’Conner-Connolly, a team from the Department of Education Services recently toured schools checking overall cleanliness, and that social distancing measures, signage, adequate hand washing and sanitation facilities were all in place.

Children have been off school since March due to Covid-19 restrictions forcing Cayman’s strict lockdown, with many attending virtual lessons and undertaking online schooling. But more than a few students did not use the time productively or were unable to do so because of a lack of access to computers and laptops, while many parents found the job of teaching their children while trying to hold down a job - possibly working from home and with no help - an impossible task.

We believe it is absolutely imperative that we get our young people back to school in a safe and clean environment where they can successfully catch up on all that they may have missed in their education during lockdown. Government must use every resource in its power to ensure that our young students do not miss a single day of this new school year. It does not matter if the child is entering the school system for the first time at Kindergarten, are moving up to high school or are about to undertake their CXEs or IGCEs, the impetus should be on ensuring that students of all ages are properly supported and protected.

It is also vital that schools properly communicate new protocols and strategies that they are rolling out to protect our young people with parents, because parents are a vital link in the overall plan to help protect our students. To this end, we are pleased that the DES has given instructions to schools to advise parents on reopening guidance. One of he most important new protocols is that all students and staff must wear masks while inside school. We know that mask wearing in the community drastically cuts down the infection rates and thankfully the act of wearing a mask has become the norm in public spaces. This must now continue in our schools if we are to ensure that students and staff stay safe.

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