Lessons Learnt from Schools During the Pandemic – Part 2

picture source: data.europa.edu

Today’s article is the second article to explore the lessons learnt from schools during the pandemic. It highlights information gained from interviews conducted with ECI and ECC staff for the Impact of COVID-19 on the ECD Sector series. Below are a few of the lessons learnt.

COVID-19 Interrupted Social Interactions

One of the main impacts of the pandemic is its effect on social interaction. Due to the highly contagious nature of the virus, social distancing rules were in place to prevent the spread of the virus; as a result, schools were closed and both teachers and children missed out on their daily social interactions. Ms. Davidson, a parent, noted that “my child was concerned about schools closing, he asked why he was not going to school. He also regularly moped and cried that he missed his ‘Aunties’ and classmates/friends.” Similarly, Mrs. James, principal of Faith Mission Early Childhood Development Centre in Sydenham, St. Catherine, noted that “the children have asked about their friends and told us that they were missing each other.” For teachers, the interruption in social interactions was also evident, Mrs. Samuels, teacher at Faith Mission Early Childhood Development Centre in Sydenham, St. Catherine, noted, “as a team, we lost the togetherness we enjoyed before the pandemic that we had as coworkers and with the children which has not been fully restored.”

Opportunities for Adaptability

No doubt the closure of schools had major disruptions to the lives of children and parents which created challenges for them to continue their children’s education. However, some of these challenges were solved by technological solutions as many schools moved into the digital space. Zoom and Google Classroom became two of the most used media for continuing children’s education during the pandemic. Through this, many teachers were able to gain new skills in distance teaching and how to support children’s remote learning. Mrs. Samuels, teacher at Faith Mission Early Childhood Development Centre in Sydenham, St. Catherine, noted that “the Principal of the school hosted a sensitization and training session for us to know about and learn how to use Google Meet and other virtual classroom platforms so that we would be equipped to continue teaching and learning remotely to support our children’s learning needs… with time and further guidance, I was able to use various techniques to improve the delivery of my lessons.” From the ECC’s perspective, the pandemic brought the opportunity to implement well-needed teacher support technological solutions. Ms. Morgan, Manager for Training and Development Unit at the Early Childhood Commission, noted, “the COVID-19 pandemic has allowed the Unit to achieve certain goals sooner than expected. These goals include full implementation of online training, online registration and online evaluation of training sessions. Online registration and online evaluation were first introduced in 2019 for only the Legal Requirement Trainings. However, this was not implemented fully until the COVID-19 pandemic.”

As we reflect on the past year and plan for the future, taking stock of the lessons learnt is surely a good place to start and will play a vital role as we look to the new school year in September. Please share with us some lessons you have learnt from the pandemic.


Lesson Learnt from Schools During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Now that schools are getting ready for summer break, many principals, teachers and parents are looking forward to the summer adventures. We are all aware of the challenges the education system has faced due to the pandemic and the effect that these challenges have had on practitioners, principals, parents and children. Today’s article focuses on the lessons we have learnt from our interaction with the ECIs, and parents.

Challenges with Face-to-face Reopening of Schools

Following the initial outbreak in March 2020, schools were shuttered by the government; however, attempts to reopen schools face-to-face was postponed due to frequent community outbreaks and clusters in school populations. This resulted in the government approving the reopening of face-to-face schooling only for students sitting exit exams and daycare centres. The financial impact of the pandemic was great for the early childhood sector as the majority of ECIs are privately-owned institutions. In her interview, Mrs. James, the principal of Faith Mission Early Childhood Development Centre in Sydenham, St. Catherine, noted that “financially, where we are unable to pay staff members their full salary. The school’s population has decreased to about 40%. We have had staff members who have resigned to seek employment elsewhere, as sufficient funds to pay salaries were not available due to none collection of fees.”

Communication is Key

Many schools island-wide, including early childhood institutions, benefited from a coordinated message from the Ministry of Health and Wellness, the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information and the Early Childhood Commission. The clear messaging and steady flow of credible information helped early childhood institutions to make decisions that ensured the safety of their children and practitioners. As noted by Mrs. James, principal at Faith Mission Early Childhood Development Centre in Sydenham, St. Catherine, “following the Prime Minister’s announcement in March 2020 for the closure of schools, we gathered all the children to explain to them what will be happening.”

Teacher Support is Crucial

The closure of schools led to remote and online learning. Many schools and practitioners were not familiar with online learning platforms such as Google Classroom and Zoom. However, many practitioners were supported to continue remote learning during the pandemic. In her interview, Ms. Lorna Samuels noted, “during the period when the school closed, the Principal of the school hosted a sensitization and training session for us to know about and learn how to use Google Meet and other virtual classroom platforms so that we would be equipped to continue teaching and learning remotely to support our children’s learning needs.  This would have been my first time using the online platform to teach; it was a bit challenging.  However, with time and further guidance, I was able to use various techniques to improve the delivery of my lessons.”

Additionally, some teachers were able to access financial support through the government CARE programme that provided financial relief during the pandemic and through financial support from the Early Childhood Commission. Mrs. Ellis-Dixon, Acting Director of Sector Support Services at the Commission, noted in her interview that “with our ECIs closed, they are operating at a loss financially, therefore, we are placing as [many] practitioners as possible on the salary subsidy payroll so they can receive some financial assistance.”

No doubt the impact of COVID-19 on the ECD sector was great, but the lessons learnt from the pandemic are greater. It is now the responsibility of the sector to continue to transform these lessons into actions that will improve outcomes for our children and build capacity for our teachers.


COVID-19 Impact of Children’s Young Children’s Learning

More than one year into the pandemic and the world is fully aware of the impact of COVID-19 on children. Many are particularly concerned about the short and long term effects of the pandemic on children’s education and learning.

Jamaica’s schools have been closed since March 2020 with many schools readjusting to the situation with the delivery of distant learning. Teachers have facilitated learning by engaging students online, telephone and through messaging apps like WhatsApp. On the other hand, parents’ roles have changed from caregivers to educators with many left feeling stressed and inadequate as they struggle to keep up with working from home and supporting their children’s learning.

For older age groups, distance and online learning might have been the practical solution but for younger children, online learning was a bit more challenging. A study[1] in China revealed that parents believed that online learning for children was less effective than traditional face-to-face learning. This is because online learning lacked learning environments and social interactions that young children need which have resulted in poor outcomes for their learning. Additionally, parents were worried about the potential effects of online education for children as they highlighted worries about children’s vision problems as a result of having to stare at screens more than usual, and children’s lack of physical activity.

A recent report by the National Education Council titled Effects of COVID-19 Pandemic on the Jamaican Education System revealed that the most used modality for online learning for early childhood was WhatsApp. The report also found that while majority of parents believed that online learning was somewhat effective, 50% of parents felt that their children learned only some of the content they were supposed to learn during online learning.

Knowing that the school year is still in session with a few more weeks until schools are closed for the summer. Here are some tips to support young children’s learning at home.

Play is Important

Children learn best through play. Play is very important to children developments and a great way for them to learn new skills. Children are more likely to engage in learning activities that offer them opportunities to play and have fun.

Screen Time

According to the American Academy of Paediatrics[2], there should be no screen time for children younger than 18-24 months and children between 2 and 5 years old should get one hour or less of screen time per day. With the outbreak of the pandemic, many families have had to rely on tablets and mobile phones for their children’s learning. Parents and practitioners should ensure that activities and lessons are planned to reduce children’s screen time by ensuring shorter periods for activities that would require screen time and longer times for activities that engage younger children and their caregivers in play activities. Parents can encourage children to interact with various objects and learning materials during and outside of class time and engage in bonding activities such as reading and storytelling.

Physical Activity

Whilst we recognize the challenges that parents are facing while supporting their children’s homeschooling, parents can encourage their children to engage in physical activities away from screens by playing games that require children to use and strengthen their motor skills. Some activities include jumping, skipping, running, climbing etc. If the child’s school does not have a physical education session in the online learning activities, parents can set aside their own time slots for physical education with their child.

Every Opportunity is a Learning Opportunity

Children’s environments produce some of the best learning opportunities. In the home, parents can continue children’s learning by turning everyday home activities into learning activities. Parents can teach children about shapes and sizes with the grocery shopping. Children can learn about textures through their interaction with different varieties of food and fabric, and they can also learn about nature in their own backyard.

The COVID-19 Corner on the ECC’s website has activity plans and tips to help parents support their children’s learning.


[1] 10.1016/j.childyouth.2020.105440

[2] https://www.apa.org/monitor/2020/04/cover-kids-screens#:~:text=AAP%20calls%20for%20no%20screen,of%20screen%20time%20per%20day.

The Impact of COVID-19 on the Early Childhood Sector – What has the ECC been doing? Community Relations

Today’s blog interview is from Ms. Tanisha Miller. She is the Manager for the Community Relations Unit at the Early Childhood Commission.

ECC: Thank you for taking part in this interview and sharing your perspectives on the impact of COVID-19 on the ECD sector and the support that your department/unit has been providing.

ECC: Could you kindly provide us with an overview of your Unit’s work and how it directly impacts the ECD sector?

TM: The Community Relations Unit collaborates with relevant stakeholders and provides timely support and intervention on a regional basis. Our mandate is to assist in improving the quality of early childhood development programmes and services within targeted communities. In carrying out this mandate, parental involvement is paramount.  The Unit is the activity hub of the Early Childhood Commission (ECC); we create awareness amongst support groups and on-going assessment of community needs regionally. Standard 10 from the Twelve Operating Standards addresses the importance of interaction between parents, early childhood institutions (ECIs) and communities, along with stakeholders and other partners. These activities are done regionally across the island in mostly rural and/or at-risk communities and are carried out by Community Relations Officers (CROs).   

ECC:  How has COVID-19 affected your work in the ECD sector?

TM: As most of our activities are conducted in communities, the pandemic has curtailed these events which involved interacting face-to-face with residents and ECIs. The ability to meet individuals within their spaces and facilitate stakeholder collaborations has been minimized due to the physical distancing protocols. Additionally, with the closure of schools we are unable to execute child-oriented, in-person initiatives and interactions like Play Day, ECC Read Pon Di Cawna, ECC Pon Di Cawna, ECC Community Flex and ECC Walk and Talk.   

ECC: What has your Unit been doing to support the ECD sector during the pandemic?

TM: The CRU has been heavily focused on supporting parents during this challenging time. We have been engaging parents via WhatsApp groups, Virtual Parenting Sessions, One-on-one communication and Parenting Webinars.  We have moved most of our activities to virtual platforms to accommodate a wider audience as well as to observe the COVID-19 protocols.

ECC: What are your hopes for the ECD sector in a post-COVID-19 world?

TM: Post-Covid-19, the hope for the ECD sector is to continue with virtual activities and that parents will continue to improve in the use of technology to prepare for any other eventuality in the future. Prior to COVID-19, our focus on technology was mostly surrounded on social media engagement. We are now in an age where technology has changed the way in which society behaves – communities, schools and parents are able to manipulate several different online platforms.  Therefore, it is the hope of the Unit that additional virtual initiatives will be executed to positively impact schools, homes and communities.

The Impact of COVID-19 on the Early Childhood Sector – What has the ECC been doing? Perspective from Training and Development

Today’s blog is an interview from Ms. Nicole Morgan. She is the Manager for the Training and Development Unit at the Early Childhood Commission.

ECC: Thank you for taking part in this interview and sharing your perspectives on the impact of COVID-19 on the ECD sector and the support that your department/unit has been providing.

ECC: Could you kindly provide us with an overview of your Unit’s work and how it directly impacts the ECD sector?

NM: The Training and Development Unit plans, coordinates and implements a variety of training opportunities to improve early childhood practitioners, caregivers, and teachers’ skills, knowledge and attitude in delivering quality education and learning programmes in the early years. Training programmes are also developed for parents of children from birth-5 years. Some of the training opportunities that are coordinated and facilitated by the Training and Development Unit are:

Curriculum Support Training for ECPs of children 0-5 years

Curriculum support training is conducted weekly to support early childhood practitioners in the delivery and implementation of the Jamaica Early Childhood Curriculum.  The training is facilitated by the Early Childhood Services Development Officers. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, the training sessions were usually facilitated face-to-face at the regional Resource Centres or at selected early childhood institutions.

Plans and Policy Writing

This training provides support to principals and operators of early childhood institutions in writing the individualized ECIs’ Plans and Policy documents as recommended in the Standards for Operation, Management and Administration of Early Childhood Institutions.  These plans include Disaster Plans, Health and Sanitation, Fire Safety Plans, Nutrition Plans ECIs Programme and Development Plans. The training sessions are facilitated by the Inspectorate core on 1st Wednesdays of every month. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, the training sessions were usually facilitated face-to-face at the regional Resource Centres or at selected early childhood institutions.  However, since July 2020, the training sessions have been facilitated virtually using the GOOGLE MEET platform.

ECC: How has COVID-19 affected your work in the ECD sector?

NM: The COVID-19 pandemic has allowed the Unit to achieve certain goals sooner than expected. These goals include full implementation of online training, online registration and online evaluation of training sessions. Online registration and online evaluation was first introduced in 2019 for only the Legal Requirement Trainings. However, this was not implemented fully until the COVID-19 pandemic. Since August 2020, the training sessions have been facilitated virtually using the GOOGLE MEET platform.  The sessions are age specific and are conducted accordingly:

  • 2nd Wednesday – Teachers/ECPs of 3-year-old children
  • 3rd Wednesday – Teachers/ECPs of 4-year-old children
  • 4th Wednesday – Teachers/ECPs of 5-year-old children
  • 4th Thursday – Teachers/ECPs/Caregivers of children birth-2 years

Online Inclusive Early Childhood Development Certificate Course

The free online Inclusive Early Childhood Development Certificate Course was designed to sensitize practitioners of the different types of development disabilities in young children and how to support these children. The training began January 25, 2021. 

Legal Requirements Training

All early childhood practitioners (ECP) are mandated to have documented hours and certification in the following three named trainings. These trainings are coordinated by the Training and Development Unit to ensure that all ECPs have easy access to these trainings.  These trainings are:

  • Paediatric First Aid which cost of $3500 (Facilitated by EFAST)
  • Universal Universal Precaution and the Reporting Mechanisms under the Public Health Act (Facilitated by the Ministry of Health and Wellness) ($0)
  • Child Abuse and the Reporting Requirements under the Child Care & Protection Act (Facilitated by officers of the Children’s Registry) ($0)

ECC: What has your Unit been doing to support the ECD sector during the pandemic?

NM: The ECC has partnered with the Jamaica Teaching Council to provide training on Introduction to Google Classroom Training.  The ECC developed a Virtual Professional Development Institute programme for early childhood practitioners and early childhood stakeholders. The ECC has been partnering with training institutions or sponsors to provide additional trainings to meet the needs of the sector.

ECC: What are your hopes for the ECD sector in a post-COVID-19 world?

It is the hope to design more training opportunities for early childhood practitioners in smaller cohorts to better cater to the practitioners’ needs. Additionally, to use the best Learning Management System to deliver training.

Perspectives from the Sector: Impact of COVID-19 ECD – Practitioner’s View

Lorna Samuels, Early Childhood Practitioner

This blog feature is from Lorna Samuels. She is an early childhood practitioner at Faith Mission Early Childhood Development Centre in Sydenham, St. Catherine, a Mixed Pre-School. Pre-Covid-19 the ECI had an enrollment of 45 children.

ECC: Thank you Ms. Samuels for taking part in this interview and sharing your views about the impact of COVID-19 on the early childhood development sector.

ECC: In what ways have COVID-19 affected your ECI?

LS: The COVID-19 pandemic has affected our institution in many ways.  For example, it has caused a severe reduction of number of children in our classes and has reduced the number of toddlers in our nursery department; this was because of social distancing restrictions as many parents started working from home. As a team, we lost the togetherness the we enjoyed before the pandemic that we had as coworkers and with the children which has not been fully restored.  Additionally, due to the reduction in class sizes, the school has lost income which has affected the regular payment of salaries to the staff and also the general operations of the school.

ECC: How have you been coping with the closure of COVID-19?

LS: During the period when the school closed, the Principal of the school hosted a sensitization and training session for us to know about and learn how to use Google Meet and other virtual classroom platforms so that we would be equipped to continue teaching and learning remotely to support our children’s learning needs.  This would have been my first time using the online platform to teach; it was a bit challenging.  However, with time and further guidance, I was able to use various techniques to improve the delivery of my lessons. I was quite happy to be able to engage the children using this medium.  I also received support from the ECC Region 6 team through attending virtual meetings that focused on how to cope with the stress brought on by the pandemic. 

Personally, it has been a challenging experience for me and my family. Fortunately, I was able to apply for financial support through the Government’s COVID-19 Care Grant to help to offset my expenses. Although these expenses were not all covered, I am thankful to God, that through the support from my Principal and family, I was able to survive the full impact of the COVID-19 virus. 

ECC: How have the children you teach been coping with the closure of school due to COVID-19?

LS: Since schools have been closed, the children have been actively engaged in remote learning classes using Google Meet platform.  This was a first for the children which was not easy for them because they were used to the face-to-face classes, outdoor activities and, physical and social interactions.  However, within a short time, the children were able to embrace the new learning platform and are now able to communicate and explore the features of the platform with their friends in the absence of normal face-to-face interactions.  I have also observed that this new teaching and learning approach was greatly supported by their parents.   

ECC: What is your hope for the children in a post-COVID-19 world?

LS: COVID-19 has been declared a global pandemic since March 2020.  This pandemic has caused a shift from teaching face-to-face to teaching online. As we continue to adjust to this new learning approach, several problems have surfaced and which are impacting learning. For example, there are still some children who are without a tablet and therefore are not able to fully participate in the use of the virtual platform. In addition, parents of these children are having difficulty to acquire a tablet or smart device to enable them to embrace this new normal way of learning. As we continue to navigate this rapidly evolving situation, it is my hope and desire that none of our children will be left behind. The fact is, it is at this early stage of development that our children are introduced to formal education. Therefore, they should not be hindered in any way, shape or form from acquiring the knowledge and skills needed for their development.

The Impact of COVID-19 on the Early Childhood Sector – What has the ECC been doing? Perspective from Sector Support Services

Today’s blog is an interview from Mrs. Simone Ellis-Dixon. She is the Acting Director of the Sector Support Services Department at the Early Childhood Commission.

ECC: Thank you for taking part in this interview and sharing your perspectives on the impact of COVID-19 on the ECD sector and the support that your department/unit has been providing.

ECC: Could you kindly provide us with an overview of your Department’s work and how it directly impacts the ECD sector?

SED: The department of Sector Support Services gives support to the physical, psychological, cognitive and social development of children during the period 0-5 years old. We monitor curriculum development, manage and support all early childhood institutions (ECIs). We also deliver in-service seminars and facilitate participation in professional development. The Department consists of a Director for Sector Support Services, Senior Secretary, ECD Supervisors (6) and Early Childhood Development Officers (43).

ECC: How has COVID-19 affected your work in the ECD sector?

SED: COVID-19 has impacted the sector, in that, we are unable to visit and support our ECIs as we would have in the past. Eighty percent of our ECIs are closed so we have to do a lot of virtual visits and meetings.

ECC: What has your Department been doing to support the ECD sector during the pandemic?

SED: With our ECIs closed, they are operating at a loss financially, therefore, we are placing as much practitioners as possible on the salary subsidy payroll so they can receive some financial assistance. We also facilitate curriculum sessions, including, training on how to use the laptop, tablet, phones to execute lessons/ activities. We have been writing weekly activity plans for our parents and have printed copies for some who have internet connectivity challenges. In addition, the ECD Supervisors have bought and prepared care packages for some needy parents.

ECC: What are your hopes for the ECD sector in a post-COVID-19 world?

SED: It is hoped that we continue to work with our practitioners, parents and children and to assist with the transition of children and practitioners returning to face-to-face schooling by providing sanitation items from donor support.

Perspectives from the Sector: Impact of COVID-19 Principal’s View

Today’s blog continues the series to feature perspectives from the early childhood sector on the impact of COVID-19.

This blog feature is from Ms. Sonia James. She is the Principal of Faith Mission Early Childhood Development Centre in Sydenham, St. Catherine, a Mixed Pre-School. Pre-Covid-19 the ECI had an enrollment of 45 children.

Ms. Sonia James, Principal

ECC: Thank you Ms. James for taking part in this interview and sharing your views about the impact of COVID-19 on the early childhood development sector.

ECC: In what ways have COVID-19 affected your ECI?

SJ: COVID -19 has affected us in many ways. Financially, where we are unable to pay staff members their full salary. The school’s population has decreased to about 40%. We have had staff members who have resigned to seek employment elsewhere, as sufficient funds to pay salaries were not available due to none collection of fees. We have also experienced some challenges collecting outstanding school fees as some parents were hesitant to go to the financial institutions to conduct business.  Additionally, like many parts of the country, there are technological challenges with some children unable to engage in remote learning due to them not having access to devices at home.

ECC: How have you and your staff been coping with the closure of school due to COVID-19?

SJ: My staff and I are trying our best to cope since we closed schools due to COVID-19. As a team, we have worked closely with the parents and children who have limited resources to continue to provide the support they need. We hold small face-to-face meetings at the institution, according to the COVID-19 protocols, to plan and prepare activities to continue remote learning for the children. We have a vibrant School Board along with the Church that continued to monitor the affairs of the school and staff members and we have received regular counselling from Pastors and Counsellors from our church family.

ECC: How have the children enrolled at your ECI been coping with the closure of school due to COVID-19?

SJ: Following the Prime Minister’s announcement in March 2020 for the closure of schools, we gathered all the children to explain to them what will be happening.  The children have asked about their friends and told us that they were missing each other. Fortunately, most of the children and staff are from the community so we have been able to continue communication and interaction. I am proud to say that the students, teachers, parents and the community have a good relationship.

ECC: What is your hope for the children in a post-COVID-19 world?

SJ: My hope is that all children be privileged to education and none will be left behind despite COVID-19. It is also my hope that strategies be implemented so that children at the early education level may acquire knowledge and skills to foster their holistic growth and development in this global situation. As a nation builder, I would like to see some form of donation be made available in either cash or kind, to ensure that all our children have equal opportunities to embrace the online learning platforms in order to continue their education.  

No one doubts that COVID-19 is one of the direst threats the world has ever faced. And yet, amidst the confusion and anxiety, there are ever stronger signs of hope and solidarity, a sense of, and desire for, togetherness. It is this spirit of global togetherness that gives us hope. In this time of crisis, we are all neighbors in the world, and success will only be achieved when all people, in all countries, communities, homes are protected. There is hope and a future for our children when we put our trust in God.

The Impact of COVID-19 on the Early Childhood Sector – What has the ECC been doing?

Today’s blog is an interview from Dr. Tracy-Ann Morgan-Smith as she shares her perspective of the impact of COVID-19 on the sector. She is Director of the Regulation and Monitoring Department at the Early Childhood Commission.

Dr. Tracy-Ann Morgan-Smith, Director for Regulations and Monitoring Department

ECC: Thank you for taking part in this interview and sharing your perspectives on the impact of COVID-19 on the ECD sector and the support that your department/unit has been providing.

ECC: Could you kindly provide us with an overview of your Department/Unit’s work and how it directly impacts the ECD sector?

Dr. MS: The Regulation and Monitoring Department carries out the core function of monitoring and regulating Early Childhood Institutions (ECIs) through a system of inspection. ECIs are monitored against the 12 National Standards. The department has two units, the Registration Unit and the Inspectorate. The Registration Unit supports the registration of ECIs through facilitating the registration process, the management and upkeep of institutions’ files and offers customer service. The Inspectorate ensures compliance with the 12 National Standards by conducting inspections of ECIs and making recommendations for meeting the Standards.

ECC: How has COVID-19 affected your work in the ECD sector?

Dr. MS: The Covid-19 Pandemic has resulted in the suspension of face-to-face operations in most early childhood institutions outside of daycares and nurseries. Subsequently, virtual spaces have to be monitored by early childhood inspectors. Due to virtual modality, inspectors are not able to observe children during some specified periods critical to their development. These include playtime with peers, transitioning and personal interactions with teachers, caregivers and peers as well as, mealtime interactions. While teachers are encouraged to interact with their students in virtual spaces, the power of the human touch for young children by their teachers is not there and this can cause young children to feel stressed especially since the physical separation time has been so long.

ECC: What has your Department/Unit been doing to support the ECD sector during the pandemic?

Dr. MS: The department has supported the writing of parent activity plans to assist parents with engaging and interacting with their children at home using developmentally appropriate activities. Support is also given to the Communication Department in preparing activities to be broadcast using multimedia to engage and support children.

Early childhood inspectors carry out visits to daycares and nurseries to ensure health and safety measures are in place and that the protocols of the Ministry of Health and Wellness are being observed.

Inspectors also support the training of early childhood practitioners using virtual spaces and assist them in preparing plans and policies to support protocols for operating in a pandemic. Some of these include Health and Sanitation Plan for institutions, sanitization schedules, and other requisite health and safety measures.

ECC: What are your hopes for the ECD sector in a post-COVID-19 world?

Dr. M.S: The sector will see the need for embracing the Standards and be encouraged to comply as the measures set out in the Standards when observed, are for the best interest of the children even post COVID-19. Additionally, I hope to see some commitment and support from a wide cross-section of institutions in society to assist early childhood institutions in meeting the standards.

Perspectives from the Sector: Impact of COVID-19 ECD Parent’s View

This series of blogs will focus on the impact of COVID-19 on the ECD sector.  To provide a balanced view of the impact of COVID-19 on the sector, we will be presenting perspectives from the Departments and Units of the Early Child Commission along with perspectives from a parent, teacher and principal.

Today’s blog feature is from Natoya Davidson. She is a parent and has a four-year-old child who attends Faith Mission Early Childhood Development Centre in Sydenham, St. Catherine.

Natoya Davidson, Parent

ECC: Thank you Ms. Davidson for taking part in this interview and sharing your views about the impact of COVID-19 on the early childhood development sector.

ECC: In what ways have COVID-19 affected your child’s ECI?

ND: My child’s school has been closed since the first case was announced. The school has lost revenue which has affected the school and teachers.

ECC: How have you been coping with the closure of school due to COVID-19?

ND: It’s been a challenging time since schools have been closed. I noticed that my child was beginning to forget some of the things that he had learnt during school year. I am an essential services worker so I was not able to stay at home to monitor my child as much as I would have liked. His nanny, who is elderly, cares for him in my absence and is not as technologically savvy as required for virtual learning.

 In the instances where I was able to support my child’s learning at home, I did not feel confident in how I was relaying the information as I am not a trained early childhood teacher. I did not learn the techniques to effectively relay information to a child at this age. The teachers and caregivers at my child’s school are better skilled to support my child’s education and were doing so before school closures.

However, during the lockdown period, I was able to observe some of the online teaching techniques of his teacher, in terms of how to relay information to young children. I feel confident to support my child now that schools are closed again as I am employing the techniques that I observed from his teacher to support his learning. Additionally, my child is still in the groove of learning remotely and I will need to ensure that I maintain his zeal for learning. I have learnt a lot from this experience and I practice refreshing his learning on the weekends with 10-15 minute sessions.

ECC: How has/have your child/children been coping with the closure of school due to COVID-19?

ND: My child was concerned about schools closing, he asked why he was not going to school. He also regularly moped and cried that he missed his ‘Aunties’ and classmates/friends. He was however excited about the fact that he could sleep in late and he enjoyed playing on the computer.

ECC: What is your hope for the children in a post-COVID-19 world?

ND: My hope is that children will appreciate the importance physical interaction with each other and that once the pandemic is over, there will not a be need for them to spend so much time on computers as this is the norm now for sharing information with each other. I also hope that children will continue to learn and comply with hygienic practices and understand their role in protecting themselves from contagious diseases.