16 Jan. 2022
Weekly Current (archived version)
COVID’s impact on education in Cayman and neighbouring jurisdictions. EdBeat is back for 2022. Boarding school fair coming soon.
Welcome to this week’s newsletter on education in the Cayman Islands.
Week In Review
The ‘COVID-19 bubble’ burst in the Cayman Islands this fall, with the country experiencing its first true community spread of the virus since the pandemic began.
However, the territory’s exceptionally high vaccination rate, along with policies such as mandatory mask-wearing, social distancing and rapid-response testing, have allowed Cayman’s schools to remain open for in-person learning through the current school year.
While individual schools have had to grapple with staff and student absences during the current wave of the Omicron variant, there has been no public discussion of potentially closing schools or shifting to online learning during the Spring semester.
As it has been throughout the pandemic, the experience in our territory has been the exception rather than the rule, compared to countries that are near Cayman geographically, or with whom Cayman has close ties.
Every 6 months or so, we check in on 9 of our neighbours to compare COVID cases, COVID deaths, vaccination rates and approaches to managing the spread of the virus in schools.
The bottom line is that Cayman has experienced far fewer COVID deaths per capita, has a relatively high vaccination rate and has had far fewer disruptions to in-person schooling than just about anywhere else.
Here are highlights from the places we looked at:
- Cuba — The only place on our list with a higher vaccination rate than Cayman. Most schools reopened in November. Officials are grappling with keeping schools open through Omicron.
- British Virgin Islands — BVI’s bubble burst in the summer of 2021 and now has had nearly 8 times as many deaths per capita as Cayman. Schools shifted to virtual learning to start the January 2022 term.
- Jamaica — Has the lowest vaccination rate on our list. As of last week, an estimated 60% of schools had reopened.
- Bermuda — Delays in government testing for COVID resulted in ‘mass absenteeism’ to start the January 2022 term. The local teachers’ union blasted the government for the ‘massively botched’ reopening plan.
- Canada — Third-highest vaccination rate on our list. Some schools were open for in-person learning, and the general goal was for all schools to be reopened by Monday 17 Jan.
- Texas — Most schools remained open in the Fall 2021 semester, as the state government withdrew funding for students attending school remotely. Many schools are facing staff shortages due to Omicron.
- Florida — A state law was enacted that prevents public schools from mandating masks for children. Omicron infections prevented more than 100,000 people, just in the Miami area, from returning to school in January 2020.
- New York — State officials tried to keep schools open physically throughout this school year. However, the Omicron wave compelled leaders to recently offer online learning as an alternative.
- United Kingdom — Regular rapid test screening of students and staff have helped to keep schools open. However, like many other places, Omicron has caused severe staff shortages to begin the January 2022 term.
The Cayman Islands government recently changed requirements for COVID isolation and quarantine, due to Omicron quickly becoming the dominant local variant. The requirements differ based on a person’s age and whether or not they’ve been vaccinated.
However, as a point of clarification, the new requirements do not affect existing guidelines for lateral flow testing of local students.
The rule is: If a person tests positive for COVID, unvaccinated children under 18 in their household may continue to attend school as long as they continue to test negative on daily LFTs for 10 days.
On Sunday afternoon, we released the first episode of EdBeat for 2022. On the show, Patrick Brendel of the Cayman Current and April Cummings of Cayman Life TV talk about COVID in schools, the Office of Education Standard’s decision to delay school inspections and other topics.
If you are thinking of boarding school as an option for your children, get out your calendar and circle 29 Jan., when a Boarding Schools Fair is being held to give parents information about schools in the UK and Canada.
More from the Current
- Panadès increases TBLS’ presence in the Caribbean region in careers event
- DES reception area closed Monday for deep cleaning
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 Life TV: You can be good, or you can be great!
- Cayman Life TV: 🔥 SPEED. 👟 COORDINATION. 🎾 FOCUS.
- Jamaica Gleaner: FRAUD ALARM
- Jamaica Gleaner: System-wide changes already started at the education ministry, says Williams
- Jamaica Gleaner: Education Ministry to undertake initiative to engage unaccounted students
- Jamaica Observer: Gov’t to procure over 40,000 devices for primary and secondary students
- Jamaica Observer: Let’s not waste this chance to make education work for us
- The Royal Gazette (Bermuda): Antigen tests to be introduced for public school pupils
- The Royal Gazette (Bermuda): Some BHS pupils back to home learning as Covid-19 precaution
- The Royal Gazette (Bermuda): Schools face further disruption as Omicron coronavirus variant continues spread
- The Royal Gazette (Bermuda): No let-up on coronavirus test lag, top scientist warns
- The Guardian (UK): Nurseries in England hit by staff absences after soaring Covid cases
- The Virgin Islands Daily News (US): As cases rise, BVI schools starting Lent term online
- Eye Witness News (Bahamas): JUST A ‘BLIP’: Education platform sees challenges on first two days of school
- Eye Witness News (Bahamas): FORGING ON: School reopening for in-person learning going ahead unless advised otherwise
- Miami Herald ($): Nearly 100K students absent on first day back at school in Miami, Broward amid COVID surge
- Miami Herald ($): Dept. of Education bid process goes awry. Insiders try to compete with favored vendor
The Week Ahead
- EdBeat: Episode 28