***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.***
First Baptist Christian School has adapted to COVID-19 by supplementing staff, introducing flexibility and adopting new technology, an Office of Education Standards inspector said.
The private school in George Town focussed on identifying learning gaps and then supporting students who needed additional assistance, according to a letter to Principal Janet Durksen from Senior Inspector Carol Bennett.
“The School Ministry Team (i.e. Board of Governors), Senior Leadership and staff had worked together to create a caring ethos throughout the school where the well-being of students and staff was a priority,” Bennett said.
The visit occurred on 23 Feb. and the inspector’s summary is dated 25 Feb.
“I 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.
The school had implemented an array of measures to protect against COVID, including mask-wearing, hand sanitising, social distancing, student bubble groups, regular cleaning and defined drop-off/pick-up points for students.
“In the early phases of community transmission of COVID-19, in consultation with Public Health, the school extended their mid-term break to remain closed for a period of two weeks. This helped to slow the spread at the school and since then the school had remained open. Attendance is currently at 93.77%,” the inspector said.
Additional staff had been hired to provide cover during the pandemic, including an additional teacher, as well as using an external agency to provide substitute teachers. Also, specialist teachers were put into the regular duty rotation, Bennett said.
“Teachers reported that they felt the school was improving regarding having adequate
staff to cover the curriculum in challenging times,” she said.
The school used programmes to identify learning gaps that may have worsened in the past 2 years. “Response To Intervention (RTI) was then used to support students identified as requiring assistance. Senior Leaders shared that data showed students were making progress and staff reported that they felt the RTI was having a positive impact,” Bennett said.
Students in isolation could access live lessons using either Microsoft Teams or Zoom.
All students used online platforms to access assignments which could be used from a variety of locations. Staff also compiled work packets for students who were in isolation when needed,” the inspector said.
The school had purchased laptops for students in grades 3-7.
“Staff planned the use of technology into lessons to support the needs of diverse learners as well as to help ensure students could transition easily to remote learning if needed during the pandemic,” she said.