April 2020 Volume 16

How KC is Coping with Coronavirus School Closing

Dr. Glen Laman
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All Jamaican public schools have been ordered closed by the government of the island. This is in response to the global pandemic caused by the coronavirus. It is an attempt to curb the spread of the virus which arrived on the island from other countries.

The latest reports are that schools will remain closed until after the Easter holidays end on April 20, 2020.

As a result of the closing, Kingston College has deployed an internet technology strategy to fill the void left by the empty classrooms.

According to principal Dave Myrie, KC is “trying to respond as best as we can under the circumstances.” As soon as the closing was announced, the school moved to setup all teacher on the Zoom software which provides a remote conferencing service that combines video conferencing, online meetings, chat, and mobile collaboration.

Teachers were already using WhatsApp and email to contact students. With Zoom each teacher can connect with up to 100 students simultaneously. This allows them to continue with the usual lessons remotely. Each teacher activates a session at the same time each day as they would for a regular class. And this continues for each subject throughout the day allowing teachers and students to maintain their normal time table. Homework and assignments are passed between teachers and students via email and / or WhatsApp.

The KCPTA has been a valuable resource in this effort, the principal reported. They had previously established WhatsApp groups for almost every class in the school. And with their help the school is able to get information out to the parents of students in each class.

Through the efforts of KC old boy Darien Francis, KC is now transitioning to the Windows 365 platform. This platform, in addition to video conferencing and collaboration, also integrates with popular Microsoft applications such as Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and other classroom tools.

A key objective of all this technology is to ensure that 5th and 6th form students who sit exams in a few short months get all the attention and support they need to be successful in CSEC and CAPE.

Of course, not everything can be handled virtually and so the school still maintains a lunch program for PATH students who live in close proximity to the school.

Overall principal Myrie is pleased with the efforts so far and feels they are “getting better” after the first week of the closings.

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