As Exuma schools ensure readiness for the 2021/2022 academic year, the Sandals Foundation has made another investment in the island’s schools with the installation of a hand-wash station and the further distribution of 39 digital tablets.
Charles Blacher, Sandals Emerald Bay Resort acting general manager, was present at the L.N. Coakley High School’s Annual Careers Day Fair to hand over the sanitation station, to add to the improved sanitization efforts of students, teachers and parents alike.
“As we increase the frequency of face-to-face instruction in schools, it was important for us at the Sandals Foundation to ensure there were added facilities to support the sanitation conveniences of everyone who will be on campus,” said Blacher.
The hand washing station was erected in partnership with Coca Cola Latin America and the donation of Sandals Emerald Bay. It will serve approximately 420 students.
Don Barr, L.N. Coakley High School principal, said the hand wash station is a significant improvement in terms of hand sanitizing in the era of COVID-19.
“Its location is crucial as it is at the cross-section where the vast majority of students traverse. [It] provides convenience for hand washing after the break, lunch, and the crossover from one class to the next.”
Additionally, as part of further investments into the island’s digital learning capacity, the Sandals Foundation donated another 39 tablets across four schools. Last November, some 200 students received digital devices following the successful execution of the foundation’s online fundraising campaign “Lessons Alive”. With the donation of 31 additional devices from friends in Canada, and another eight devices provided by resort guests, the Fryers Family, students in need at Rokers Point Primary, George Town Primary, Forest Primary and Mt. Thompson Primary will be able to get online for classes.
Pamela L. Gorte, district superintendent at the Department of Education Exuma and Cays District, said the devices would definitely augment the online teaching/learning capacity of the schools.
“When we consider the number of challenges unemployed parents have with replacing or repairing devices, these additional donations will ensure that no child is unintentionally disenfranchised or left behind,” said Gorte.
She said each child with a device is brought closer to the equity they are tryingto achieve amongst the student body. And that as it stands, there are students who are afforded devices and those who are not. However, she said the effort is just one step to attaining that desired equity.
The sentiment was supported by Vanessa Penn, principal of Rokers Point Primary School.
“The pandemic forced schools to compose creative ways to maintain the teaching and learning process [but] many students did not have access to tablets or suitable devices. The donation will therefore help those students who were at a disadvantage.”
The Sandals Foundation has been a longstanding partner of the education sector in Exuma since its inception in 2009. Heidi Clarke, foundation executive director, credits the mandate of the organization and the support of guests, team members and partners who make it possible for the foundation to meet real needs within the island in a sustainable way.