***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.) The Current will publish a story on each individual school, as well as stories from a more comprehensive perspective.***
Clear leadership and closeness among staff have helped Montessori By The Sea navigate the COVID-19 pandemic, an Office of Education Standards inspector said.
There was no reported learning loss among students, who continued to make good academic progress, according to a letter to Co-Principals Debora Thompson and Kourtni Jackson from Senior Inspector David Baldwin.
“The principals and senior leaders had a very strong vision of progress and protocols throughout the pandemic, and had analysed changes that may be usefully kept post Covid,” the inspector said.
The visit to the school occurred on 6 April and the inspector’s summary is dated 7 April.
“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.
Staff at the private early years and primary school said they had been able to successfully cover the curriculum during the pandemic, but were feeling fatigued by the additional workload.
“Some staff spoke of a supportive ‘huge family feel’ amongst themselves that had grown stronger through the pandemic,” Baldwin said.
“Middle leaders appreciated the flexibility and awareness of the co-principals with respect to accommodating staff’s needs during the pandemic,” he said.
Heads of programmes said there had been no learning loss due to COVID this academic year.
“Progress was rigorously monitored through a variety of strategies and students continued to progress as expected, if not better,” he said. “Heads of programs accredited this to the learning packs that were sent out to students, individual staff follow-ups to students, the relative short periods of the absences and strong parental support.”
The school’s attendance had been nearly 90% since September 2021.
Measures employed by the school to control the spread of COVID included a bubble system for students, mask-wearing and hand-sanitising.
“HVAC air filtration and purification systems were installed in all classrooms, as well as HEPA filters in all AC units,” the inspector said.
In order to recruit new staff during the pandemic, school leaders advertised in a greater number of platforms and earlier in the recruitment process.
“The school reported no significant problems recruiting staff, although senior leaders did report, anecdotally, that some expats were less keen to leave their home nations to work abroad during the pandemic,” Baldwin said.