29 Aug. 2021
Weekly Current (archived version)
The Cayman Current returns from our summer vacation — just as Cayman Islands students are returning to start a new school year. The education department and the Education Council have new leaders. Enterprise Cayman is a new sponsor of our TVET/STEM education mini-documentary. We give readers a sneak preview of students’ journalism projects.
Welcome to this week’s newsletter on education in the Cayman Islands.
Week In Review
We’re back! And so are Cayman Islands students … well, almost.
The Cayman Current took a breather for the past couple of weeks and, boy, do we have impeccable timing to go on holiday. While we were out, Cayman was visited by not 1, but 2 tropical storms.
The first one, Grace, was a direct hit on Grand Cayman, causing island-wide power outages and felling numerous trees, while the second, Ida, was a weaker storm, landing only a glancing blow.
For the record, the country’s public schools are ready for the new school year, and were assessed for damage from Grace. Officials are also distributing laptops, have upgraded public schools’ internet bandwidth and have made preparations to shift to virtual learning in case of a bad storm or COVID-19 outbreak (when/if the country’s border reopen).
About that ‘… well, almost’: Even though Ida didn’t turn out to be serious for Grand Cayman, local authorities took it seriously.
Accordingly, officials cancelled public school orientation activities scheduled for last Friday. The orientation will instead be held tomorrow, Monday, 30 August — pushing back the first day of public school until Tuesday, 31 August.
Earlier, the government sent out a schedule of school orientation and start times. It includes a table of when students (and primary school parents) have to attend orientation, depending on their school.
(Check out the schedule here.) But remember that orientations scheduled for 27 August now take place 30 August, and the first day of school is now 31 August.
In addition to the new faces of children and teachers in school classrooms, there’s a new Director for the Department of Education Services.
Congratulations to new DES Director Mark Ray, who’s been a teacher, educator and IT guru in Barbados and Cayman schools. Since 2014, he’s been Head of Business Services for DES, although in October 2020 he became an Acting Deputy Chief Officer in the Ministry of Education.
We’ve asked Ray for an interview but haven’t heard back yet.
Stay tuned …
Speaking of new leaders, the Education Council has a new Chairman. Shomari Scott has taken the reins from Dan Scott, who had led the board since 2017.
We’ve been in communication with new Chairman Scott, and we’re working on setting up an interview as soon as he’s comfortable in the saddle.
Wrapping up news about the new school year, Minister of Education Juliana O’Connor-Connolly addressed teachers during the Annual Education Professionals’ Welcome Back Event.
O’Connor-Connolly said the government has budgeted funds to roll out the new free school meals programme for the 2021/2022 school year, starting in all public primary schools, as well as the Lighthouse School.
The free meals programme will be extended to public secondary schools next August 2022.
The programme means that all public school students will be provided free breakfast, lunch and snacks.
Several top officials spoke during the Welcome Back Event, including Premier Wayne Panton, who described education as the PACT government’s top priority.
Please join us in welcoming Enterprise Cayman as a sponsor of our first in-depth multimedia enterprise journalism project. Thank you!
Enterprise Cayman is a workforce development initiative and partnership between Cayman Enterprise City and the Cayman Islands Government. The organisation is providing the Cayman Current with financial and in-kind resources to assist our planned mini-documentary series on TVET and STEM education.
“Enterprise Cayman is proud to sponsor Cayman Current’s in-depth multimedia journalism project on TVET and STEM education. Our sponsorship reaffirms our commitment to drawing awareness to new and innovative career opportunities in technology and helping to nurture Cayman’s next generation of innovators,” said Charlie Kirkconnell, CEO of Cayman Enterprise City and Enterprise Cayman Director.
In addition to Enterprise Cayman, our mini-documentary project is also being supported by initial sponsor Dart.
We are engaged in discussions with other supporters to further enhance the quality and reach of our TVET/STEM project. As sponsorship agreements become official, we’ll provide details on sources of funding.
It wouldn’t be summer vacation without summer camp. We were fortunate to spend a couple of mornings at the Journalism and Media Summer Camp hosed by Minds Inspired and local media houses.
Building on what they learned during workshop sessions and field trips to local news organisations, the teenage students broke out into teams and created their own journalism projects, on topics including traffic, adolescent vaping, farming and local history.
The Current and other organisations will be publishing their projects, and we’re proud to host the landing page where you can find all the students’ work.
The student content won’t officially go ‘live’ until later this week, but we’re giving Weekly Current readers a sneak preview of the landing page, with photos from the camp and teasers to the stories.
More from the Current
Around The Web
The Current is a central resource for education journalism by others, including regional and international news relevant to Cayman education. (Find our running collection of links here.)
- Cayman Compass ($): Shomari Scott new chairman of Education Council
- Cayman News Service: Free school meals and snacks to begin this term
- The Guardian (UK): England’s schools in urgent need of repairs, say heads
- Jamaica Gleaner: PAHO urges caution in reopening schools
- Miami Herald ($): What will it take to get a university vaccinated? FIU leaders are counting on $150
- The Virgin Islands Daily News: Department and Board of Education clash on return to in-person learning
- Eye Witness News (Bahamas): BACK TO VIRTUAL: Ministry of Education announces all public schools will reopen with virtual learning
- Stabroek News (Guyana): Teachers’ union concerned over ‘aggressive’ reopening of schools
- The Royal Gazette (Bermuda): College classes to be remote due to strike threat and Covid-19 test problems
- The Royal Gazette (Bermuda): West End School defenders say they are being ignored
- The Royal Gazette (Bermuda): Parents disappointed by preschool programme rule change
The Week Ahead
- Student projects from Journalism & Media Summer Camp
- Education information from 2020 Compendium of Statistics