***Editor’s Note: Due to the impact of COVID-19, the Office of Education Standards is conducting one-day ‘thematic visits’ to Cayman Islands schools in the Spring 2022 term in lieu of more in-depth inspections. (Click to expand.)
(Read our story on the decision here.) OES recently published the first batch of reports from these visits, which will eventually involve 31 government and private schools and culminate in a national report. The Current will publish a story on each individual school, as well as stories from a more comprehensive perspective.***
The tight-knit community at Montessori School of Cayman has largely managed to navigate the challenges of COVID-19, with students continuing to show learning progress, an Office of Education Standards inspector said.
However, staff shortages have impacted the school, as tasks related to the pandemic take teachers’ time away from their normal duties, according to a letter to Director Briana Bergstrom from Senior Inspector David Baldwin, following a one-day ‘thematic visit’ to the private school.
The visit occurred on 26 Jan. and the inspector’s summary is dated 28 Jan.
“We did not find any significant concerns” during the visit, Baldwin said.
Unlike full inspection reports, the inspectors do not assign graded judgments to schools as a result of the one-day visits. Inspectors conduct interviews with school leadership, teachers and administration, as well as reviewing documentation.
“The school leader, and all staff are fully committed to the safety and wellbeing of all stakeholders. The school is relatively small which enables all staff to know every child well and recognise when appropriate, additional wellbeing strategies need to be employed,” he said.
In addition to the children, Bergstrom also focusses on the mental wellness of the school’s staff.
“The school leader monitors the wellbeing of all stakeholders through a very ‘hands-on’
approach, regularly speaking with each individual and checking on their mental health,” Baldwin said.
Staff, students and parents followed public health guidelines in regard to COVID, such as temperature checks and hand-sanitising.
The primary challenges at Montessori School have been staff absences and extra work due to COVID.
The inspector said, “The school lost one of its senior staff last week to a promoted position. The school administration executive is also currently on maternity leave. These absences, together with staff absences due to Covid-19 and quarantine has placed considerable stresses on the staff this year.”
He said, “Staff recognise that all jobs pertaining to Covid-19, however small, take time away from other tasks.”
The school “has struggled” with delivering hybrid learning when children are quarantining at home. “This is due in part to the young age of the students, and parental support available for the student at home, and also the staff’s relative expertise in remote learning,” Baldwin said.
Meanwhile, students have continued to progress in their learning, although staff are facing pressure from additional workloads.
“Staff are able to demonstrate progress made, during the pandemic, by the students
through milestones achieved and evidenced on Transparent Classroom. More accurate
progress would be shown if greater amounts of available evidence had been uploaded
onto the platform,” the inspector said.
“Staff have been unable to upload some evidence due to loss of admin time where [they] are now in the classroom and/or attending to other Covid-19 related tasks.”