***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.***
Cayman International School had put strategies in place to deal with COVID-19, placed accountability on senior leaders and focussed on the mental wellness of students and staff, Office of Education Standards inspectors said.
Teachers said students had experienced minimal learning loss during the pandemic, according to a letter to Director Jim Urquhart from Chief Inspector Nicholas Sherriff and Senior Inspector Althea Edwards-Boothe.
“The Board of Management and senior leaders had a clear strategy in place to promote continuity of learning for students. Throughout the pandemic, the school has remained open,” the inspectors said.
“The Board of Management held school leaders to account for the quality of education provision through regular reporting and meetings during the pandemic. In a meeting with the OES inspectors, the Board representative expressed strong confidence in the leadership of the school,” they said.
The visit to the school occurred on 30 March and the inspector’s summary is dated 4 April.
“We did not find any significant concerns” during the school visit, the inspectors 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 private school in Camana Bay had introduced a “raft” of mental wellness initiatives for students and staff.
“Staff stated that school leaders had created a caring environment for both students and staff and that they felt supported and appreciated,” the inspectors said.
The school’s pastoral team said there was an increase in outside counselling referrals for high school students during the pandemic.
“This they noted may be attributable to an increasing openness to discuss mental and emotional health since the pandemic. Staff agreed that the pandemic had led to normalising conversations about mental health and noted how this was creating useful
avenues for change,” the inspectors said.
Educators said there was “minimal learning loss” among students who were absent from school due to COVID quarantine or isolation.
“Strategies such as tutoring sessions and office hours were in place to support students who had missed out on learning,” the inspectors said.
The school had invested in additional cleaning staff and security guards during the pandemic, as well as measures such as hand sanitising stations, deep cleanings and electro-static cleanings.
About 70 parents claimed that their children were exempt from mask-wearing requirements.
Service providers and visitors to the school were required to be vaccinated or to present a negative COVID test before being allowed on campus.
CIS opened its new high school building in January 2021.
“The school had been able to recruit a new High School Principal and a new Assistant Principal but the school board and senior leaders raised the increased difficulties due to COVID-19 and the high cost of living in the Cayman Islands that was seen as prohibitive for potential new staff,” the inspectors said.