Since the ferocious COVID-19 caused a lockdown of school last month, Keron King, principal of Little Bay Primary and Infant School in Westmoreland, has been using bike taxis to drop off and pick up assignments to keep his students learning while they are at home.
Dubbed the ‘Pick up and Drop off Initiative’, King said he and his staff are ensuring that no child is left out of teaching and learning.
“We take our school register with us and with each delivery, we mark the children present as we would for school. So at least once per week, I will jump on a bike taxi and go through the bushes to the places where you cannot travel to using a car. I have lived in the community for more than a year, so I know where most of my students are located. The students were a bit surprised and happy to see us because they are not expecting us to show up with schoolwork,” he said.
On Monday, Prime Minister Andrew Holness announced that educational institutions will remain closed until May 31.
Schools have been closed since March 13, however, teaching continues online. King’s effort has been applauded by many including, UNICEF Jamaica, who first shared his story through its COVID-19 Diaries.
King told THE STAR that the staff had a meeting where the needs of the students were discussed.
Access to the Internet
“We know that some of the persons would be able to have access to the Internet, while there is a significant portion who won’t be able to. I then told them that we would be having a pickup and drop-off point as it relates to assignments for the kids so we partnered with the (Ministry of Education’s) Regional Four office, and our senior education officer Patricia Haughton, along with Rockhouse Foundation, have been very helpful in getting the work material printed and so on,” he said.
King said that he is not only offering lessons to his students but has also created assignments for other primary school and high schools students within the area.
“I have created work for them and communicated this with their parents then give it to them. All of the children feel really nice because we wrapped their little packages and put their pencils in there with their names. There are times when the parents are not able to set the work for them so it’s a pleasure for us to do it,” he said.
The 32-year old King said that before the virus reached Jamaican shores, staff had engaged online learning platform EduFocal.
“There is a mindset that rural schools are distant, but the reality is that it doesn’t have to be that way. For instance, we ensured we got funding from stakeholders to have EduFocal as a timetabled course. Every student at the school has an access code. So when COVID-19 happened to us and we met as staff, we could take some comfort in knowing that we were ahead,” he said.