'JC Six' seeking election to PTA executive
Group proposes blueprint for face-to-face classesThursday, October 14, 2021
SIX fathers at Jamaica College (JC) are asserting that they have what they believe is part of the answer to the island's struggle to return to in-person learning.
The group is led by Collin Greenland, who is vying for the post of president of the JC Parents Teachers' Association (PTA), which will have its elections today.
Other members of the group vying for leadership of JC PTA include Dr LeoPaul Powell, Julian Rodney, Noel Brown, Julian Thompson, and JC Old Boys' President Major Basil Jarrett.
The six men are all JC old boys. Since June, they have been working on a solution which they believe will bring face-to-face classes back to school and slow the blow that the novel coronavirus pandemic has brought on the country's education system.
“We realised just how much damage online learning had made in our boy's social and academic development. Not only had grades slipped, but some of our sons were losing interest in school, had developed bad study habits and in some cases, were demonstrating serious physical and emotional problems as a result of being locked away for so long,” Greenland said.
He added that the solution revolves around dividing and narrowing down the school population, then strategising means of transportation within the school population.
“First, we started by looking at the entire school population of approximately 1,400 boys and asking how many want to or are able to return to school during the pandemic. We then split those numbers in two in a one-week online/one-week offline mode in order to reduce on-campus numbers and better adhere to the on-campus spacing and social distancing requirements. This means that each week, we only need to move 600-700 boys to and from campus,” Greenland said.
“We then asked how many boys live within walking distance of the school, and how many are driven to the school as opposed to those who take public transportation. And of the number that is driven, how many would be willing to carpool or pick up boys on their way – all COVID-19 protocols including mask-wearing and hand sanitising observed of course.
“Finally, we would look at how many boys were not captured by any of these groups, and then come up with a solution to bus them to school via chartered buses, the cost of which would be borne by the entire school, with support from important stakeholders such as our old boys,” Greenland added.
Rodney, the group's nominee for the post of vice-president, said the plan is a bold, audacious and innovative concept that the group plans to take to the Ministry of Education.
“We started out by bringing a number of experts to the table. We brought in logisticians, psychologists, educators, health officials, school administrators, and transportation experts who we believed could attack the problem in a very systematic manner,” Rodney said.
“Fortunately, Jamaica College had already received approval for its COVID Safe-Campus plan last year, and so our job was simply to solve the major gap in that plan by coming up with a logistical blueprint to transport our boys safely to and from school. If the plan meets ministry approval, then it could form the gold standard for all schools in Jamaica to emulate and come up with their own COVID faceto- face solutions.”
Dr Powell, however, said while it is an innovative plan, it cannot succeed without the parents' and teachers' input.
Subsequently, JC six have embarked on a broad campaign to engage parents for feedback and ideas.
But, before the group can finalise and submit that plan, the members first need to win the support of the JC parent and teacher body at today's PTA elections.
“Winning the election is important, but the group isn't interested in winning an election that involves a handful of parents. We are pushing a plan to bring our boys back to campus in a meaningful way. That plan will need 100 per cent of our parent body to get involved. That's really what this election is about, and I think that makes it important and urgent that everyone participates not just in the AGM on Thursday, but more importantly, in the conversations leading up to it and those after,” said Dr Powell.
He added: “I know it's a bit clichéd, but it really does take a village to raise a child, or in this case, to get our children back to school. The successful adoption and implementation of the plan rest heavily on the involvement and support of each and every parent and so we decided to seek the PTA leadership in order to provide the type of visionary leadership and technical guidance required to not only make the plan work but to also engage, motivate and mobilise the entire parent-teacher body.”