COVID delays school inspections to Fall 2022

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The Office of Education Standards will not conduct any full school inspections during the 2021/22 school year, due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Instead, school inspectors will conduct shorter visits to individual schools from January to March, provide feedback to the schools and compile a national report this year.

“Since September 2021, due to the ongoing monitoring, management and impact of COVID-19 outbreaks in our schools, with Ministerial support, the decision was made to defer inspections until September 2022,” Office of Education Standards Director Nicholas Sherriff said in an email to the Cayman Current.

Sherriff said eight Early Childhood Care and Education centres had been slated for inspections in Fall 2021, but those are being pushed back a year.

From January to July 2021, the OES published 18 full school inspection reports as part of the second two-year cycle of school inspections.

“The OES is still on track to complete all cycle 2 full inspections by December 2022. All schools and early years’ centers have been made aware of this change and the interim plans of the Office of Education Standards,” he said.

The last OES inspection report was published in July on Tiffany’s Preschool.

Nicholas Sherriff joined the OES in March 2021, following the departure of former Chief Inspector Peter Carpenter at the end of 2020.

The conclusion of the first cycle, which involved inspections of 53 schools, coincided with Carpenter’s departure.

Sherriff said the decision to defer inspections until the Fall “allows schools to focus on dealing with continuing learning while managing community transmission of COVID-19 internally rather than the increased pressure of preparing and executing full school inspections.”

Last April, the Current published a story after public school teachers said they were concerned about undergoing school inspections during a compressed Spring semester while trying to address student learning gaps that had developed during the 2021 COVID lockdown.

This school year, the OES won’t be conducting full inspections, which can entail ‘deputising’ on-island teachers as associate inspectors and ‘importing’ contracted inspectors from abroad to conduct detailed reviews of schools with visits over several days.

However, during the next several months, OES inspectors plan “to conduct a shorter and less intrusive thematic visit for 31 schools”, Sherriff said.

“This will consist of a one day visit to each school by a single Office of Education Standards inspector focusing on leadership and wellbeing. All of the schools will receive a brief letter providing feedback from the Office of Education Standards and the information gathered will be presented in a national report later in the year,” he said.

The OES inspection reports are the only source of information on faculty numbers, student demographics and school performance at the individual school level, encompassing both private and public schools, from early years centres through secondary school.

The inspection reports form the backbone of data presented in the Current’s Cayman Islands Schools Explorer and the accompanying series of analyses of schools we published a year ago.

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