17 Oct. 2021
Weekly Current (archived version)
Cayman Islands charities adapt to COVID-19 in the community. CXC exam results are in. DES Director issues statement on public schools’ response to pandemic.
Welcome to this week’s newsletter on education in the Cayman Islands.
Week In Review
Local charities are facing challenges created by health regulations and the spread of COVID-19 in the community. However, they say that last year’s shutdown has helped them to adapt better to the currently changing situation.
We reached out to a number of non-profit organisations involved in the Cayman Islands education sector to see how the recent COVID outbreaks have affected their operations.
Juliet Austin, Executive Director of LIFE Cayman (‘Literacy Is For Everyone’), said COVID restrictions have interrupted her organisation’s signature in-person programmes. In response, LIFE is focussing on efforts that comply with social distancing requirements, and looking at shifting programmes online.
On the ‘business side’, Austin said it’s become more difficult to attract donations to fund general operations, as “increasingly, companies prefer to sponsor individual programmes”. (Editor’s Note: We’ve seen the same as the Current.)
Melanie Coffey, Inclusion Specialist at Inclusion Cayman, said they’ve focussed on protecting their clients, because they serve many individuals who have heightened vulnerability to COVID.
On the one hand, advances in technology have helped Inclusion Cayman to better serve their community, but on the other hand, she said, “it has also increased isolation and limited access to participation for some of our community members”.
And Stacey VanDevelde, Founder/Chairwoman of Feed Our Future, said they’ve been able to operate as usual as long as school canteens are functioning normally.
“What we still lack (and the same goes for parents I am sure) is quality direct communication from the Ministry, DES, or schools,” she said.
Patrick Brendel of the Cayman Current and April Cummings of Cayman Life TV talk about this story and more topics as well.
The Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC) released regional exam results on Thursday, noting low numbers of subject entries and high rates of absenteeism in the Spring 2020 tests.
Students would have gotten their individual scores on Friday.
Delayed by COVID and a volcano eruption, this year’s regional scores were released about three weeks later than the 2020 marks. If you’re marking your calendar, last year Cayman shared school-level results in November.
Regionally, students posted a 74% pass rate in English A and 41% in Mathematics.
Those scores are far lower than the 82% pass rate in English and 52% pass rate in Mathematics from 2020. The English pass rate is the lowest since 2018, and the Maths pass rate is the lowest since 2013.
With public schools on an extended midterm break due to COVID-19, the leader of the Department of Education Services has outlined government’s response to COVID, attested to the effectiveness of remote learning in public schools, and stated that the unavailability of a number of high school teachers led to the closure of Grand Cayman’s public schools.
“Despite the effectiveness of remote learning there will be instances when this may not be the recommended approach. Such was the case recently when the Ministry of Education decided to bring forward the midterm dates of its schools in Grand Cayman,” DES Director Mark Ray said in a video.
Meanwhile, the Health Services Authority published a schedule of COVID testing for households in isolation due to cases in schools.
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 News Service: Education officials battle COVID challenges
- Cayman Compass ($): Masks, school closures only increase fear of COVID-19 in students, says doctor
- Jamaica Gleaner: CXC releases data on CSEC, CAPE exams
- Stabroek News (Guyana): Guyana top performer again at CAPE, CSEC
- Barbados Nation News: Exam results creditable despite challenges, CXC says
- The Guardian (UK): American schools gave kids laptops during the pandemic. Then they spied on them | Jessa Crispin
- The Guardian (UK): Teachers’ pension scheme: female retirees receive 28% less than men
- Jamaica Gleaner: NIA calls $124M loss at MOE outrageous
- Jamaica Gleaner: Dr Grace McLean sent on leave amid $124 million loss at Education Ministry
- Jamaica Gleaner: DIS-GRACE
- Jamaica Observer: McLean sent on leave as AG calls for police probe into questionable $124m payment
- Jamiaca Observer: Cheating gone savvy
- The BVI Beacon: Premier dodges Commission of Inquiry questions during testy hearing on Covid stimulus
- The Royal Gazette (Bermuda): Majority of public schools to be open by end of the week – Burt
- The Royal Gazette (Bermuda): Schools and preschools reopen classrooms
The Week Ahead
- How COVID-19 is impacting local NPOs
- EdBeat: Episode 18