***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.***
However, sometimes staff absences or “other demands in the school” meant staff were not always able to provide daily ‘live’ sessions to students in quarantine, according to a letter to School and Centre Director Carrie Patraulea from Senior Inspector Carol Bennett.
“Senior Leaders and staff placed an emphasis on student well-being; embedding social emotional programmes and mindfulness activities throughout the school day, encouraging healthy lifestyles and creating a positive, supportive ethos within the school,” Bennett said.
“Staff worked collaboratively to support each other and to cover staff absences. The intimate setting of the school lent itself to more seamless coverage as all teachers knew each student and were in close proximity to them. Staff in isolation who were well enough to teach did so online while the students were monitored by the other staff in the school room,” she said.
The visit occurred on 16 Feb. and the inspector’s summary is dated 17 Feb.
“We did not find any significant concerns” during the school visit, the inspector 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.
Bennett said students and staff had mental health support available to them through outside providers.
Students previously at government schools who had transferred to Cayman Learning Center on government scholarships were able to keep their government-issued laptops and continue participating in the free school meals programme.
Students in isolation who were well enough to participate were expected to attend ‘live’ virtual sessions during the day.
“In some of the classes, these were synchronous lessons, and in other it was one on one sessions with their teacher. At times, staff was not always able to provide the daily session due to staff absences or other demands in the school,” Bennett said.
All staff and students followed COVID protocols such as mask-wearing, social distancing and regular sanitisation of classroom areas.
“While staff and Senior Leaders expressed that each person collaborated to cover staff absences, only 20% of the staff responded positively to the survey regarding the school having sufficient staff to deliver the curriculum effectively during the pandemic. Staff also expressed this sentiment during discussion,” the inspector said.