October 2, 2020 | Basseterre, St Kitts | Olston R. Strawn
After several months of being away from the schoolyard, there was a buzz of excitement mixed with anxiety as both teachers and students anticipated the September 7, 2020, start of the new school year. While things were not the same this year due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the St Kitts Seventh-day Adventist Primary School (SDAPS) remained true to its motto, NIHIL NISI OPTIMUM (Nothing but the Best). As such, the SDAPS spared no effort or resource to ensure that students returned to an environment that was equally welcoming, safe and engaging.
Several weeks prior, school management and staff had been busy building capacity in various ways. Firstly, this was done through the use of technology tools to deliver meaningful, engaging, high-quality, instructional experiences. Secondly, the staff became familiar with the COVID-19 protocols for school operations, readied learning spaces and advised parents of the new operational procedures. On September 8, the school was assessed by a representative of the Ministry of Education and received a nod of approval for adherence to the national guidelines for the reopening of educational institutions.
When the students arrived for orientation on their respective first days, September 9 (Kindergarten - Grade 3) and September 10 (Grades 4 - 6), they experienced the rollout of an ‘all-hands-on-deck’ plan for receiving them. This approach saw streams of students filing through the gate, donned in their masks. They were then directed to designated screening stations where teachers, some of whom arrived as early as 7 a.m., measured and recorded their temperatures. After this, they were guided to their classrooms where they were supervised by assigned teachers. The bell rang at 8:30 a.m., and most, if not all students, had already been screened and were quietly seated in their classrooms. After registration, neat lines of well-groomed students, beaming with excitement, gathered for worship where the pastoral team ministered and the staff was introduced.
A significant change for the year is that while Kindergarten to Grade 3 students engage in daily face-to-face instruction, Grades 4 to 6 students are adopting a blended learning approach using the Microsoft Teams platform. It has been several weeks and the school is settling nicely. The SDAPS continues to monitor its processes to become even more efficient, and give continued priority to safeguarding instructional time.
By the grace and mercies of God, the SDAPS will continue to model excellence in its delivery of Adventist education. This is a goal and practice that has not gone unnoticed because the School has experienced an increase in enrolment from 305 to 315, and there is an unprecedented surge of interest in the SDAPS. To God be the glory!