3 Oct. 2021
Weekly Current (archived version)
Government adapts response as COVID-19 enters the school system. Health City becomes the Cayman Current’s newest sponsor. Analysis of 2021/22 public school enrolment. Checking out the Great Wall of BVI.
Welcome to this week’s newsletter on education in the Cayman Islands.
Week In Review
Cayman Islands schools will no longer automatically close when a student tests positive for COVID.
Officials shifted their strategy following positive cases in George Town Primary School, Prospect Primary School, John Gray High School, Triple C School and a preschool (identified as Just For Kids by Cayman News Service).
The government’s new ‘COVID-19 Classroom Protocol‘ began circulating online late last week, in the form of a one-page decision tree for what schools should do if a student comes up positive.
If a student tests positive:
- The student and their household will be isolated for two weeks and retested.
- The student’s class will be tested.
- If no more cases are detected, regular lessons will continue at school.
- If more cases are detected, the class and their households will be isolated for two weeks and retested. Anyone who tests positive will remain in isolation until they test negative.
The guidance does not stipulate at what point an entire school may be closed.
On Sunday, the government put their plan into action again, following more cases in students at Clifton Hunter High School, Prospect Primary and John Gray. The Health Services Authority issued a notice that students and teachers from affected classes (but not family members) were to be tested, and households isolated until further notice.
As of Friday morning, all children with COVID were doing well and most were asymptomatic.
Triple C closed Friday as a result of the positive case in their school.
However, John Gray continued to operate normally Friday, although Year 9 students were tested according to the protocol.
Similarly, Prospect Primary closed for a single day on Wednesday after a student tested positive, but reopened on Thursday.
And finally, George Town Primary is set to reopen Monday. The entire school had been closed since 14 Sept. after a student tested positive. In total, cases were eventually detected in 20 George Town Primary students (according to our count, as of Friday).
The government’s evolving COVID response was the main topic discussed by Patrick Brendel of the Cayman Current and April Cummings of Cayman Life TV on this week’s episode of EdBeat.
We assume government’s future responses will vary on a school-by-school basis, according to factors such as the number of cases in the school and the community at the time. One of the points Patrick made was that, in order for officials to maintain confidence from the public, their actions must be based on a consistent logic and they must communicate their decisions clearly.
(Watch EdBeat: Episode 16 here.)
It is with tremendous gratitude that we are able to announce that Health City Cayman Islands has become a sponsor of our planned mini-documentary series on TVET and STEM education.
But that’s not all — Health City has also made a separate donation to become the newest Founding Sponsor of the Cayman Current.
Please join us in thanking Health City for its generosity and support. Thank you!
“Health City Cayman Islands is proud to be a sponsor of Cayman Current and its in-depth focus on TVET and STEM education through its multimedia journalism project. From the outset, Health City has had a focus on education about medical and allied healthcare careers. Through these initiatives, we have been able to open the eyes of several young Caymanians to the medical and associated fields of study and the careers that await them. A project like the one Cayman Current is undertaking aligns well with our goal of creating pathways to careers in these fields,” said Shomari Scott, Chief Business Officer for Health City Cayman Islands.
By becoming a Founding Sponsor, Health City joins other individuals and local companies, including Broadhurst Law Firm.
If you’re interested in supporting our mini-documentary or the Current in general, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit our Donations Page.
We weren’t quite sure what to expect from public school enrolment numbers, given the economic effects of the pandemic, last year’s experiences with virtual learning, and positive inspection reports for government schools.
Here’s the bottom line: The number of public school students at the beginning of this school year is essentially the same as it was last year.
Private school enrolment figures aren’t available yet, but will be collected by government during the data collection process for the annual Education Data Report.
Sometimes it can be instructive to take a step back from Cayman and take a look at events unfolding in other jurisdictions.
There’s a story we’ve been following that’s been playing out in the British Virgin Islands, which illustrates the … let’s say, ‘niceties’ … of some public sector capital projects in the region.
The subject of the story is an 8- or 9-foot-high perimeter wall built around a high school. We call it ‘The Great Wall of BVI‘.
We won’t rehash the entire story, as reported in The BVI Beacon, but the details include:
- Reducing the size and cost of a project phase to just under the minimum amount that would trigger the official procurement process;
- Divvying the project up among at least 70 individual contractors;
- The then-Education Minister hand-picking the contractors during an election year;
- Cost overruns of 40% for a project that ended up being 40% smaller than estimated;
- The auditor general flagging irregularities and alleging law-breaking after the project was completed;
- Nearly 7 years after the project first started, an independent investigation revisiting the auditor general’s report.
Any resemblance between the project in BVI and any project in Cayman, past or present, is entirely coincidental …
More from the Current
- Viewpoint | Lindsay: How you are perceived
- Health City celebrates successful summer of education programs
- Education Minister Supports Boys’ Mentorship Programme
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 News Service: COVID spreads across schools and community
- Cayman Compass: Government releases new COVID protocol for schools
- The Royal Gazette (Bermuda): Threshold of 80 per cent clear tests set for schools to return
- Jamaica Observer: COVID-19 has exposed gaps in education says Terrelonge
- Jamaica Observer: Education in crisis
- The Guardian (UK): GCSE and A-level pupils to be awarded fewer top grades in 2022, says Ofqual
- The Guardian (UK): DfE considering return of Sats at 14 and axing teaching hours limits
- Miami Herald ($): Education chief Miguel Cardona calls Florida’s new COVID quarantine rule ‘dangerous’
- Miami Herald ($): Broward schools looking to get about 10,000 students back into the classroom
- Eye Witness News (Bahamas): Scientist calls for ‘research culture’ in education as new ministers take over
The Week Ahead
- EdBeat: Episode 17