15 Nov. 2021 (Remembrance Day)
Weekly Current (archived version)
UCCI closes campus, switching to virtual learning due to COVID-19. US stats illustrate effectiveness of vaccine among teens. Health City calls in to EdBeat. Enterprise Cayman becomes NPO.
Welcome to this week’s newsletter on education in the Cayman Islands.
Week In Review
The University College of the Cayman Islands has shut down in-person classes and moved to remote learning for the remainder of the semester, citing COVID-19 cases among students and a lack of quick-response test kits.
“At present, the university does not have an adequate supply of lateral flow tests for the student and staff population. In that light, the decision was made to move to online learning, so that we can do our best to limit community spread at UCCI,” according to statement from UCCI.
As we wrote in last week’s newsletter, local principals credited the government’s provision of LFTs with keeping students in class from preschool through secondary. They did, however, express concern about the LFT supply holding out during the spike in community cases of COVID.
Without access to the LFTs, UCCI made the decision to switch to virtual learning.
“UCCI instructors are well versed in online learning. Because of the Covid-19 community spread, students were given the choice to attend fall semester courses either in-person or online. Many chose the latter and instructors have been teaching a hybrid of the two. The shift to fully online will be seamless. All classes are still 100% instructor-led and all support services are still operating,” according to UCCI.
The university did not give a timeline for when the campus might be opened again for classes.
Numbers are rolling in from the US on the impact of the COVID vaccine while the Delta variant has become the prevalent form of the virus in the country.
The data show that the vaccines are extremely effective at preventing infections and deaths, especially among young people between the ages of 12-17.
Put another way, Delta caused a ‘spike’ in infections and deaths among the unvaccinated population. But for vaccinated people, the Delta spike was more of a gentle hummock.
Since the beginning of August, unvaccinated American teens were about 10 times more likely to test positive for COVID than their vaccinated peers.
In the 18-29 age group, unvaccinated people were more than 30 times more likely to die from COVID than vaccinated people.
Health officials in the state of Texas, which has a population of about 29 million, recently released a report on vaccine efficacy, foccusing on the month of September and widespread Delta infections.
Similar to national trends, unvaccinated Texas teens were 22 times more likely to test positive for COVID than their vaccinated peers.
This, we think, is an important point: Neither the US nor Texas data have information on COVID deaths for teenagers because so few teenagers (vaccinated or not) died from COVID during the time period.
Shomari Scott and Charles Bush of Health City Cayman Islands joined Patrick Brendel of the Cayman Current and April Cummings of Cayman Life TV on this week’s episode of EdBeat to discuss the education opportunities offered through the Healthcare Explorers programme.
Scott said Healthcare Explorers was part of the vision of hospital founder Dr. Devi Shetty, who encouraged Health City to reach out to students while they were still in primary school. He said the overwhelming majority of physicians and nurses knew they wanted to go into medicine by the age of 11 or 12.
Scott said the overall results of their efforts are encouraging. In 2016, 8% of Cayman’s students were on a ‘medical pathway’ in bachelor’s or certificate programmes. In 2020, he said, that number had risen to 19%.
The two most-popular initiatives offered by Healthcare Explorers are their on-demand videos on medical education, and virtual field trips of the hospital, Bush said.
The virtual field trips started back in 2017 as a way for Health City to accommodate more ‘visitors’ than would be possible during physical trips. When COVID appeared in Cayman in spring 2020, the hospital had the technology to move immediately to virtual learning.
For context, last year Health City hosted more than 700 field trip ‘encounters’. Since the beginning of this school year, total encounters have already reached nearly two-thirds of that number.
A virtual field trip consists of three parts: a virtual tour of the hospital, an educational video (on a topic chosen by the teacher) and then a live Q+A session hosted by the physician who appeared on the video.
For more discussion of Healthcare Explorers and other topics, check out the rest of the show.
[Disclaimer: We are pleased to point out that Health City Cayman Islands is a Founding Sponsor of the Current, and is also a Project Sponsor of our upcoming mini-documentary series on TVET and STEM education. Health City’s appearance on EdBeat was not a part of any sponsorship arrangement.]
In other Current Sponsor news, we’d like to congratulate Enterprise Cayman for their relaunch as a non-profit organisation. Enterprise Cayman is the educational arm of Cayman Enterprise City.
The newly minted non-profit is a Project Sponsor of our TVET/STEM mini-doc.
“We’re seeing a continued and growing demand for a technically skilled workforce in the Cayman Islands,” said Charlie Kirkconnell, CEC’s Chief Executive Officer and Director of Enterprise Cayman. “Through Enterprise Cayman, our goal is to help train those wishing to pursue technology-driven careers. We want to ensure that everyone in the Cayman Islands has access to high quality learning experience and opportunities to pursue dynamic careers in the technology and innovation sectors.”
More from the Current
- Ministry of Education (MOE) Purchases Masks for Government Schools
- Department of Education Services Concerned About John Gray High School Incident
- UCCI launches new website
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.)
- The Guardian (UK): Students in England to sit repeated mock A-levels and GCSEs, Ofqual says
- The Royal Gazette (Bermuda): Education system changes delayed by Covid-19
- Jamaica Observer: Editorial | More school years and COVID recovery
- Jamaica Observer: Put top university researchers to analyse education fallout from pandemic
- Jamaica Observer: Almost 100,000 Jamaican students inoculated with first dose of Pfizer vaccine
- The BVI Beacon: UWI’s Virgin Islands’ campus awards first PhD
- Stabroek News (Guyana): Company struck from Register clinches $346M contract for Bamia Primary School
The Week Ahead
- EdBeat: Episode 23