Taxi drivers’ strike forces some schools to close early, education ministry says

KINGSTON, Jamaica — Monday’s strike by taxi and bus operators forced some schools to close early, but most operated without any disruption to regular operations, according to the Department of Education.

School administrators across the island have reported disruptions, if any, to the operation of their schools, the ministry said.

He cited reports to his regional offices, which indicate that while some students were late and a number of teachers were absent, most lessons were held face-to-face.

In Region 1, which covers Kingston and St. Andrew, 95% of schools used face-to-face modality, with the remaining 5% using distance and blended modalities. Two schools in the corporate area – Tivoli High and Kingston High – halted classes at noon due to staff shortages.

Region 2, which is made up of St Thomas, Portland and St Mary, had one school reporting an early closure at 1:00 p.m. because four teachers were unable to get to school. Overall in Region 2, attendance was lower than normal and late arrivals.

In Region 3, comprising St Ann and Trelawny, Cedric Titus High in Trelawny canceled classes at 12.30pm because taxis had stopped moving by then and Bounty Hall Primary also in Trelawny was operating remotely. Otherwise, no disruptions were reported.

In Region 4 – St James, Hanover and Westmoreland – 22 of 25 schools were open to face-to-face teaching. Three secondary schools – Merlene Ottey, Spot Valley and Manning’s – engaged their students using the virtual modality. Two primary schools hired students virtually while the other 138 operated normally.

Region 5, which is Manchester and St Elizabeth, noted no negative impact of the strike on schools and said all had normal operations.

Region 6, which covers the parish of St. Catherine, reported that all schools were operating in mixed mode except one which had a broken sewage system. Most schools in urban centers closed classes early while those in the rural interior operated in person without interruption.

In Region 7, which covers the parish of Clarendon, all schools in urban areas have been affected in terms of low attendance. They used the mixed modality. Rural schools were unaffected and operated as usual. The affected schools were closed early.

Earlier today, Education Minister Fayval Williams urged school administrators not to lock pupils or send them home randomly to where they showed up late and the number of teachers was insufficient.

“Student and leadership safety is critical at this time,” the minister said.

It has been reported that a number of students and teachers did not show up for classes or arrived late due to transportation problems following the carrier strike.