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JAMAICA: Red Carpet Welcome for St. Ann’s Bay Primary Students

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#MontegoBay, January 14, 2022 – The administration of the St. Ann’s Bay Primary School in St. Ann welcomed back its students on Monday (January 10) in fine style by rolling out a red carpet.

The entrance to the school was transformed into a glamorous space using balloon arrangements, to make the first day of face-to-face learning since the advent of the coronavirus in March 2020 an extra-special occasion for the students.

The children were greeted by school principal Trevor Cole, teachers and members of the Parent-Teacher Association (PTA), as they strolled down the red carpet to their respective classes.

Speaking with JIS News, Mr. Cole stated that the gesture was geared towards motivating the students and “allowing them to feel appreciated and to know that we’re here ready to facilitate them for their learning and development.

“…we welcomed them in style because we wanted them to feel special. They would have been home for so long and we believe that it is absolutely important that our students get a sense that the school to which they come to learn is excited to have them back in this space,” Mr. Cole said.

He says it was a seamless return to face-to-face learning, owing to hours of strategic planning to devise the best possible approach to accommodate the students.

The school usually operates on a shift system and has a student population of 1,066.

“We have spent long hours planning, refining, reviewing and just trying to find the best possible approach. Yes, we have always had a space challenge, and that compounded the problem… but we have had to do some retrofitting to existing spaces to facilitate our students,” he said.

“I believe this opportunity will enable us to see more of our students, so that we can continue with the business of teaching and learning and ensure that our students at a primary level are sufficiently equipped to move on to the next level, which is high school,” Mr. Cole added.

The principal informed that while a blended rotation model is being utilised, he is happy students will have the opportunity to interact with their teachers.

Three grades will be accommodated at school each day, while others will continue learning online.

“Our grade-six students will be here for the entire week but they will come on a rotational basis, meaning that group A will come one day and group B comes next day and it is rotated. So there will be a balance in terms of online and face-to-face instructions,” Mr. Cole explains.

“We have also paired grade five, with grade six to enable them to be here every day for the first month of school and then for today (Monday) and tomorrow (Tuesday) we’ll be facilitating grade one, and Wednesday and Thursday we will be doing grade two. The next week, grades five and six will continue and then we will integrate the other grades, that is grade three and grade four,” the principal said

He added that there will be strict enforcement of the health and safety protocols, including mask wearing, social distancing and proper washing of hands.

Meanwhile, students and teachers have expressed joy to be back in the classroom.

Grade-five teacher Adrian Henry was happy to interact with his students in the physical space, noting that they have suffered significant learning loss due to connectivity issues.

“It is a pleasure to be back in the classroom. One of the ways students will benefit from this is real-time feedback. No glitch in connectivity, no delay in WhatsApp messaging, no checking Google Classroom…; if there’s an issue with teaching and learning then all matters can be resolved immediately,” Mr. Henry indicated.

Grade-five student Leonardo Harrison revealed that he is happy to see his friends and teachers.

“Now that we are going into face-to-face, I can see my friends and also I can learn better because the online was no good… .  Also, when teacher is sending the work it takes a long time to come in… . So face-to-face is good; you could see the board and you could learn better,” he said.

 

Contact: Nickieta Sterling

Release: JIS

 

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Bahamas News

Cruising should slow down says PAHO

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By Dana Malcolm

Staff Writer

 

‘Slow down on Cruising’, that’s the word from the Pan American Health Organization, PAHO in their latest recent press conference.

Dr. Ciro Ugarte Director of Health Emergencies at the PAHO was referring to the Bahamas but made sure to note that the advice was highly relevant to many countries in the times of omicron.

“In the context of intense transmission, due to the Omicron variant as we have highlighted several times. It is just logical to suspend or at least limit the cruise ship traffic as an outbreak on board might end up exceedingly high and probably will go beyond the capacity of local health services”

Both the Bahamas and the Turks and Caicos are experiencing a massive uptick in cases and several warnings regarding cruise travel have been issued by the US Centers for Disease Control.

Cruising just resumed for many regional countries this past Summer, Turks and Caicos was among the latest to restart on December 13.

A stop to sailing would be devastating to economies, however, ports of call like Grand Turk which are reeling with rocketing case numbers of COVID are urged to consider the suggestion of slowing down on ships by PAHO.

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Caribbean News

Cayman gets its second ‘Sir’; former Premier Alden McLaughlin knighted on Jan 1

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By Dana Malcolm

Staff Writer

 

#Cayman, January 20, 2022 – Former Premier of Cayman Alden McLaughlin was knighted at the start of 2022; named in the Queen’s New Year Honors List. He is only the second Caymanian to have ever received a knighthood from her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.

Sir Vassel Johnson, received the honour in 1994; he was Cayman’s first Financial Secretary; he died in November 2008 at the age of 86.

Current Governor, Martyn Roper extended congratulations saying, “This is an outstanding personal achievement for former Premier McLaughlin, one of the most important and impactful political leaders in Cayman over the last 21 years. It is a significant moment for our islands. This historic award is only the second ever Knighthood to a Caymanian since the first in the 1990s. It is a strong signal of the respect in which Cayman is held and a visible demonstration of the progress Cayman has made as a vibrant democracy with strong good governance foundations.”

Sir McLaughlin, who is also now a QC attorney, served two terms as premier and had a career in politics that spanned 21 years. McLaughlin is known for his role in modernizing Cayman’s constitution.

Current premier G. Wayne Panton described the occasion as a unifying moment for the country saying, This is a day of celebration and great pride for all Caymanians as a son of our soil has been bestowed one of the highest honour.  Today marks a new and most unique storyline in the history of the Cayman Islands.  In considering the rarity and magnitude of this occasion, this is certainly a unifying moment for our community.”

Sir Alden McLaughlin, 60, was appointed as a Knight Commander of the Most Distinguished Order of Saint Michael and Saint George on January 1, 2022.

 

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Caribbean News

Understanding Sargassum with help from the TCI’s Department of Environment & Coastal Resources  

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By Sherrica Thompson

Staff Writer

 

#TurksandCaicos, January 20, 2022 – Sargassum, also known as seaweed, is a natural brown macroalga that lives in temperate and tropical oceans of the world. The floating micro eco-system is important to many species, including baby turtles, little crabs, and tiny fish. All these animals use the floating rafts of the sargassum for protection, shelter, and food.

Over the years, sargassum has been increasing its quantity in the Caribbean due to climate change. As water temperatures increase, sargassum blooms, and as this continues, it occurs in large amounts. This can be dangerous for some marine life because when seaweed washes up on the shore, some species become trapped in the sargassum mat.

Environmental Outreach Coordinator at the Department of Environmental and Coastal Resources for TCI, Amy Avenant, says the Turks and Caicos Islands has not seen the worst of the overgrowth.

“In the Turks and Caicos Islands, we have not seen the full severity of sargassum blooms. Our neighbours in Bonaire, for example, experience up to six feet of sargassum, and they have found stranded dolphins, sea turtles, and sometimes even birds,” said Amy Avenant.

“When the sargassum washes up on shore, it starts to decompose, and when it decomposes, it emits methane, and that is the stinky sulfuric eggy smell that you can smell when you walk past it on the beach. It is a bad thing for climate change because of the methane, but it is not harmful to your health.”

Turks and Caicos saw this in extreme amounts in October; so severe, resorts were forced to bag and bury the stinky seaweed which for over a week covered the usually sandy white stretch of Grace Bay beach.

Avenant noted that in the TCI, we have a balance between managing the influx of sargassum and impacting the areas where it lands because its influx is correlated to the cycles of the moon.

She also said sargassum can be used as a fertilizer in farming. If you collect it, the advice is to spread it out and ensure you wash the excess salt off before adding to your gardens or farms.

There are also hidden dangers and habitat threats to the piles of sargassum on shorelines.

Avenant informed, when you see sargassum on the beach, ensure you watch out for wildlife that might be stuck and species which might have made a home of the ocean’s deposit which has washed up, this is heightened on rocky shores.

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