In a long-awaited moment for parents, teachers and students alike, Prime Minister Andrew Holness confirmed on Friday (June 11) that the Government is giving consideration to the resumption of face-to-face classes come September.
In noting the prospect of face-to-face class resumption, Holness highlighted the importance of high vaccination rates among those within the education sector, to make the dream of schools reopening a reality.
Speaking during an Office of the Prime Minister Virtual Townhall , Holness said that, currently, “the level of (vaccine) takeup (among teachers) is not sufficient in my mind to put us on a firm pathway for the return of face-to-face education.”
Given this, to teachers and leaders within the teaching profession, he said: “We will not be able to return to face-to-face education with confidence if we do not have a sufficiently high level of teachers vaccinated… .”
He noted that “we would like to see upwards of 80 per cent of our teachers vaccinated,” and in particular those teachers who fall within the vulnerable age groups getting vaccinated.
On the matter of the resumption of face-to-face education, Holness stated that “the decision to return to face-to-face will be driven obviously by the public health science but it will also have to be balanced by the social and economic imperatives”.
He furthered: “The Cabinet of Jamaica which I lead takes into consideration all the recommendations that come from the Ministry of Education, from the Ministry of Health, from the Ministry of Finance and we balance them because at the end of the day we don’t want you to survive COVID and die of hunger… .”
As a result, he said that “the perspective that we have now at this point in time is that we are looking to a return to face-to-face education in September… but things can change… “.
With that in mind, the decision to reopen schools will rest heavily on what the next few months have in store.
In the meantime, however, Holness urged teachers and parents alike to get vaccinated when the opportunity presents itself so that “we can all get back to life”.