9 September 2020
Summer is usually a quiet time at Cayman International School as students are on annual summer break. However, the campus was unusually quiet earlier than expected due to the closure of all Cayman Islands schools as a result of the government's response to the COVID-19 pandemic. For the final months of last school year, Cayman International School transitioned to remote and online learning, rolling out precautionary plans for the rest of the term that quickly became a reality.
First-time Pre-K3 teacher Cybel Johnson describes the lockdown experience as a learning curve, especially for the early childhood division.
“Our team has learned so much during the pandemic," she says. "As educators, we pride ourselves on thinking we are flexible, but I think the lockdown taught us the very definition of flexibility."
Because the early childhood curriculum is play-based, teachers had to ensure families could adapt to learning at home.
“Our focus while taking on this new challenge was twofold: How do we translate this into a successful ‘at-home’ programme and how can we support parents who are learning to use this programme while also having to work from home,” says Johnson.
Cayman International School teacher Cybel Johnson with Pre-K3 students on the first day of classes in August. Photo: Ariel Thompson
Getting back to normal
Once the restrictions were lifted, Cayman International School offered summer camps for its early childhood community, which Johnson says was a positive experience not only for the children and parents, but also for the teachers as it provided somewhat of a "normal" routine.
The summer camp was also an excellent opportunity for the school to test and implement safety protocols following the back-to-school guidance outlined by the Cayman Islands Government, she says.
As younger students can be generous "sharers," the school is enforcing measures that help protect against the spreading of germs, from frequent sanitisation to making sure children’s hands are washed multiple times a day.
“Having experienced these measures first-hand during the summer camp, I feel very confident about implementing them in the classroom,” says Johnson. “Our school, in general, has adopted a vigorous cleaning protocol and has made the students’ well-being the priority.”
Adhering to these protocols, Cayman International School has welcomed students back for the new school year, bringing life and excitement back to the campus.
“Honestly, it feels like a breath of fresh air," says Johnson. "It feels great to be physically back in the classroom and I am very excited to see what the new school year has in store."
This article originally appeared in the September 2020 print edition of Camana Bay Times with the headline "Back to school."
About the author
Ariel Thompson is Senior Marketing Communications Coordinator at Dart, having joined the company in 2017. A lifelong writer, Ariel was born and raised in the Cayman Islands before studying abroad at Oakwood University in Huntsville, Alabama, for her degree in public relations and film and television. With eight years of experience in communications, Ariel joined Dart after working as Cayman International School’s first marketing communications officer. As her name would suggest, Ariel is a Disney fan and has a singing voice to rival The Little Mermaid’s. She loves to conceptualise TV and movie scripts and hopes one day to be a director. When in Camana Bay, Ariel can be found enjoying Mizu Asian Bistro + Bar’s Pad Thai, or shopping with friends and a scoop of gelato in hand.