It is said that when schools, communities and organisations work together to support learning, students tend to stay in school longer, do better and enjoy school more.
The Cove Primary School was one such institution to benefit from a partnership with the Sandals Foundation that saw the building of a new covered walkway. Completed to the tune of close to $1.6 million, the new construction is the perfect solution to a persistent challenge for the 67-year-old school, where students found it difficult to access the restrooms from their classrooms whenever it rained.
Principal for Cove Primary School, Patrice Campbell; Board Chairperson, Dania Rosser; Quality Education Officer, Susan Simms; students and team members from Sandals and Beaches Negril were all present at the symbolic ribbon cutting for the new covered walkway.
Principal Campbell noted that the walkway will not only fix the problem of children accessing the restrooms whenever it rains, but will also be a multipurpose asset as teachers and students are able to sit outside on lunch breaks and relax in the mornings before classes.
“We always battled with the issue of students getting to and from the bathrooms in inclement weather and we had to do something about it. I asked the Sandals Foundation to assist the school in building a covered corridor and they didn’t hesitate to assist. We know that during this pandemic many organisations are strapped for cash and the Ministry of Education does not always have the funds. Yet still, we continue to see the dedication and the commitment that the Foundation has towards Cove Primary,” said Principal Campbell.
As the school looks to reopen its doors for face-to-face learning in January 2022, Campbell added that the walkway will assist with the separation of students as required under COVID-19 prevention protocols. She noted that specifically for grade 5, the largest group, students will have to be placed into smaller classes. They initially had no space for these additional classes which meant some students would not be able to attend school every day. Campbell highlighted that the new construction has made it possible for some classes to be facilitated on the corridor, giving all students the opportunity to attend school daily.
She explained that teachers had been growing weary of students having to walk through their classrooms when it rained, as this was a major disruption. Teachers as well as students are now thankful for the ability to traverse without the hassle.
“I love the new walkway,” Feleisha Legore a student at the institution shared during the handover ceremony
Campbell said the walkway will also be used for morning devotions, as a rest area for sports day, school BBQs and other events.
Board Chairperson Dania Rosser noted that the structure also helps with physical distancing as it is an expansion of the school. This is a welcome feature during a pandemic.
While encouraging the students of Cove Primary to care for and make proper use of the walkway, Quality Education Officer, Susan Simms, added that partnerships such as these result in the improvement of schools, thus making a positive educational change in the lives of students.
“We the team members at region four embrace the support and contribution to education by all stakeholders; indeed this kind gesture is well appreciated. Positive school partnerships play an important role in decision making and accountability; and are often linked to strong relationships between schools, communities and families,” she said.
Meanwhile, Executive Director at the Sandals Foundation, Heidi Clarke, noted that the new construction will better help in facilitating a great learning and teaching environment.
“Primary and other early childhood institutions play a critical role in developing a strong foundation for our children’s aptitude. These newly covered walkways will allow teachers and students to engage each other without interruption, thereby removing so many unseen learning barriers that may not currently be easily identified,” she said.
“These formative years,” Clarke continued, “are crucial so it was important for us as a foundation to help make their environment in this critical juncture of their development as comfortable and conducive to learning as it could be.”
Over the years, the Sandals Foundation has supported the Cove Primary School through the upgrade of their library facilities, career guidance seminars, targeted student and teacher trainings as well as the donation of learning resources and sporting supplies.