Ministry of Education addressing student learning loss & mental health
"Our students remain our most important stakeholders." These were the words of the Honourable Julianna O’Connor-Connolly, Minister for Education, Youth, Sports, Agriculture and Lands in her address at the Coronavirus press briefing last week Friday.
According to Minister O'Connor-Conolly, Cayman's student engagement during the coronavirus period was 87.8 per cent, while that of the United Kingdom was only 23 per cent which she said was a "a testament of the values and principles of our Country."
The Minister outlined some of the key achievements of her ministry during the pandemic. These included
- Providing online education across all schools to approximately 5020 students
- Packaged and provided of an additional 6000 printed schoolwork packets to students in need of printed course materials
- In addition to schoolwork packets, provided 3000 personal care packets (that included items such as school supplies, hygiene items, treats, gifts where applicable)
- Provided 655 laptops on loan to students with a proven identified need and prioritizing examination year students
- Providing and facilitating free school meals to over 600 students daily
- Providing weekly student counselling sessions and wellness checks via one-to-one, small groups, and full class sessions
- Providing weekly staff counselling sessions
- Developing and delivering innovative virtual events to encourage social interaction including but not limited to; parent wellness sessions, talent shows, school assemblies and school leaving ceremonies
The minister also indicated that her ministry was aware of the special needs that students would have upon their return to school in August.
"We want our students to come back to a welcoming school environment and ready to learn. Still, we also recognize the trauma they may have experienced as a result of the pandemic, and we need to fully support them carefully," she said.
She advised that the Ministry has created an Education Recovery Plan that Students would allow for the assessment of students upon their return to school to determine "learning needs and for schools to implement interventions and determined catch-up provision... professional development, curriculum restructuring, assessment, and mental health support for students and staff."
The Minister reminded the public that students had completed approximately 75 per cent of the school year when the switch was made to distance learning.