***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.***
Educators at Layman E Scott High School identified learning loss in students during the pandemic, but initiatives such as extending the school day had enabled students to make up that deficit, an Office of Education Standards inspector said.
The unique situation on Cayman Brac and the closeness of the community allowed the school to continue extracurricular activities and field trips despite COVID-19, and to keep tabs on students with Special Education Needs and/or Disabilities, according to a letter to Principal Devon Bowen from Senior Inspector David Baldwin.
“Heads of departments had a very clear awareness of student progress across the school against internal assessments undertaken. Heads of department reported an initial loss of learning during the pandemic,” Baldwin said.
“Heads of department produced data evidencing that learning gaps had now been closed to the effect students were now progressing above expected levels in core subjects,” he said.
The visit occurred on 16 March and the inspector’s summary is dated 21 March.
“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.
“Senior leaders and heads of department identified areas of learning loss and ensured curriculum coverage through a number of initiatives, including postponing certain elements such as the science fair that enabled other areas to be taught, and extra lessons had been held in the afternoons before the second run of the buses,” Baldwin said. “The school also extended the school day by one hour for a term after the students returned from lockdown to ensure curriculum coverage.”
Throughout the year, Brac students were still able to participate in field trips as well as extracurricular activities.
“The school continued to run field trips and also extra-curricular activities. Leaders reported these events had had a positive effect on students’ wellbeing,” the inspector said.
Unlike most other schools on Grand Cayman, Layman Scott students with special education needs did not suffer significant adverse effects due to COVID-19.“This was attributed to close monitoring and the relatively small community on the island that enabled close communication with all stakeholders and thus the ability to address issues swiftly and effectively,” the inspector said.
The school had implemented an array of measures to protect against COVID, including mask-wearing, additional outside benches to facilitate social distancing, outdoor hand-washing stations and hand sanitisers throughout the school.
The school had tripled the size of its cleaning staff from 2 people to 6.
However, there was an issue with students missing school due to “fear of COVID”, Baldwin said, “whereby students remained home worried about attending school in fear of catching Covid-19”.
He said the number of fear-related absences had dropped to zero as parents and students became more confident in the school’s ability to manage the virus.
“Absent staff’s lessons were covered by other members of staff, including support staff who had stepped up to take the role of teacher within the class. Staff reported this exercise as taxing, particularly psychologically, but were determined to ensure a continued education for the students,” the inspector said.