29 May 2022
Weekly Current (archived version)
Cayman schools dealing with COVID absences, learning loss. UCCI summer STEM camp returns. International students back at CCMI after 2 years. DES hosts annual steelband competition.
Welcome to this week’s newsletter on education in the Cayman Islands.
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Cayman Islands schools have been trying to manage COVID-19 related absences and associated learning loss during this school year, with varying degrees of success.
Many schools have invested in online resources, and others have also added additional in-person classroom time in order to address anticipated shortfalls in student achievement, according to reports from Office of Education Standards inspectors.
For example, Calvary Baptist Christian Academy implemented a new online version of the school’s Abeka curriculum, including more ‘streamed hours’ that allow students to access live or recorded lessons.
Still, Chief Inspector Nicholas Sherriff wrote, “Middle leaders in English, mathematics and science did report periodic learning loss linked to isolation and remote learning suggesting they were in a constant state of catching up.”
From January to April 2022, inspectors conducted one-day ‘thematic visits’ to 34 public and private schools across the Cayman Islands.
We wrote stories on each individual school and have begun higher-level analyses of inspectors’ findings. This week we published our third story in that series.
Many schools reported increased absences as students and staff had to quarantine due to COVID, linking student absences directly to learning loss.
At East End Primary School, at one point in the Fall 2021 term, attendance dropped to as low as 30%.
“School leaders are aware of a degree of learning loss across the core subjects [of English, Mathematics and Science] and have identified knowledge gaps through testing. The learning loss is different across the three subjects and heads of department have programmes designed for closing the gaps in each area,” an inspector wrote.
Almost all schools put more resources into online learning in response to COVID. To mitigate stalled student progress, particularly in subjects like mathematics, some schools also added classroom learning time.
Layman Scott High School in Cayman Brac extended the school day starting in Fall 2021. An inspector wrote, “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.”
(Read our story on COVID absences and learning loss here.
The University College of the Cayman Islands is opening applications for students age 11 to 13 for its STEM summer camp.
This year’s activities include computer coding, lionfish dissecting, LED badge creation, robot building, 3-D printing, and more.
The camp takes place on the UCCI campus from Monday to Friday 8-12 Aug. The cost is $200. Camp sponsor Enterprise Cayman is subsidising the cost of the camp.
A total of 25 students will be accepted this year. Applications open Monday, 30 May.
STEM camp organiser Antoinette Gayle said, “We are absolutely thrilled to once again be able to open up the University College of the Cayman Islands to eager, young students who want to learn about how fun and exciting a career in STEM can be. For only $200, students can dissect fish, build robots, learn about computer programing and so much more. Everything they make they get to take home, and this genuinely is a great opportunity. We encourage students to apply early and we hope to inspire the next generation of Cayman’s STEM experts.”
To apply, visit www.ucci.edu.ky/stem-camp.
(Read more about the STEM camp here.)
The Central Caribbean Marine Institute hosted its first group of international students since Cayman closed its borders due to COVID in 2020.
Indiana University students visited CCMI’s Little Cayman research facility beginning in March 2022. Saginaw Valley State University students are scheduled for June, and CCMI hopes to see the return of students from Dartmouth College, University of North Carolina, Rutgers Study Abroad programme, Wellesley College, University of Delaware, Indiana University, Louisiana State University, and University of Wisconsin-La Crosse in 2023.
CCMI was awarded a RESEMBID grant for EU €203,384 that provides funds to support technical assistance to adapt to COVID, which has facilitated the operational changes needed for CCMI to safely host local and international researchers and students:
“The impact of COVID-19 on CCMI’s operations in the last two years has been catastrophic for our international residential programmes. Although we did adapt to teaching virtually, what makes CCMI unique is the residential experience. We provide an opportunity for students to come and live on a remote island, at a sustainable field station, immersed in nature and marine science,” said CCMI’s Director of Advancement Kate Holden. “The grant from RESEMBID has made a significant difference to us – providing the funding and the technical assistance to update the research station into a COVID-19 ready facility. It will take us about a year to complete the project, but we are already seeing the benefits from the RESEMBID support.”
(Read more about international students returning to CCMI here.)
Uniting the Cayman Islands around education
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The Department of Education Services hosted the 17th annual Amin Mohammed Steelband Competition at John Gray High School on 21 May, closing out the 2022 National Children’s Festival of the Arts programme.
Competitors included 8 soloists and 11 steel bands. Winners are as follows:
- Mason Falcon — primary school soloist
- Taygan McFarlane — junior soloist
- Micah Leon — senior soloist
- Joshua McLean — open soloist
- Spot Bay Primary School — primary school band
- John Gray High School — junior band
- Triple C. School, Layman Scott High School – senior band
- Pan n Riddum — open band
(Read more about and see photos from the steelpan competition here.)
More from the Current
- Caymanian History, Politics, and Society Book Launch on 14 June
- HSA invests in EMT training for Caymanians
- ICCI Gives Discount to SHRM Student at CISHRP Conference
Around The Web
The Current is a central resource for education journalism by others, including regional and international news relevant to Cayman education. (Find our running collection of links here.)
- Jamaica Gleaner: Gov’t mulls legal action as 27,000 students still missing from classroom
- Jamaica Gleaner: Editorial | PNP too silent on Patterson report
- Miami Herald ($): Just more than half of Miami-Dade, Broward third-graders at reading level, tests show
The Week Ahead
- Analyses, school inspectors’ reports
- EdBeat: Episode 38
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