THIS WEEK’S TOP NEWS STORIES
17 SCHOOLS IN NINE PARISHES TO PHASE-IN FACE-TO-FACE LEARNING
From November 9, 2020, to November 20, 2020, some 6,000 students from 17 schools in nine parishes will be part of a phased-in face-to-face learning pilot program. The program will be implemented in response to the fact that over 50 percent of Jamaica’s students find it difficult to access online education during the COVID-19 pandemic, which has highlighted the digital divide in the island’s educational sector. Prime Minister Andrew Holness fears that the unequal access to online learning impacts marginalized poor communities disproportionally. The reopening of the 17 schools was based on recommendations from Dr. Parris Lyew-Avee and the team at the Mona Geoinformatics Institute and the University of the West Indies and the E-Covid Education Task Force after their examination of risk factors. The pilot program has been described as an ultra-conservative move toward normality. All students must wear masks. If a student does not have a mask, one must be provided.
HOLNESS SAYS JAMAICA NEEDS US$1 BILLION TO REDEVELOP NATION’S DRAINAGE NETWORK
According to a study from the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), it will take US$1 billion dollars to fix the problems in Jamaica’s drainage network. Prime Minister Andrew Holness disclosed this information in response to questions from opposition Members of Parliament in the House of Representatives. He said that construction of drains cannot be financed from a single budget and that “detailed engineering studies” have been performed on the matter. He noted that efforts will be made to provide funding in the next budget for the Marcus Garvey Drive project at the 2020/2021 estimates of the expenditure. The preliminary estimate for the work is J$1.2 billion, he said, adding that all the resources available were put toward responding to the Zeta Tropical Storm rain event.
THIS WEEK’S TOP CARIBBEAN NEWS
CARIBBEAN COUNTRIES ARE TOP DESTINATIONS FOR U.S. TOURISTS FOR THE FIRST TIME
According to Squaremouth, a travel insurance comparison site, countries in the Caribbean are listed as the most popular destinations for travelers from the United States for the first time. The change was attributed to border closures and travel restrictions imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic. Caribbean islands now make up 50 percent of the Top 10 destinations for American travelers, with the greatest increase experienced by Turks and Caicos, the US Virgin Islands, Jamaica, and Aruba. These four countries have never before been listed among the most popular destinations as reported by Squaremouth. Before COVID-19, the Bahamas and Costa Rica were the only countries in the Caribbean to make the Top 10 list.
THIS WEEK’S TOP JAMAICAN DIASPORA NEWS
DIASPORA COLLECTS OVER US$14,000 IN BACK-TO-SCHOOL SUPPLIES DRIVE
A number of Diaspora organizations, partners, and individuals cooperated in the Back To School Supplies Drive to obtain more than US$14,000 in funding used to buy school supplies for the benefit of over 1,500 students in more than 20 schools throughout Jamaica. The drive, which ran from August 15, 2020, to September 12, 2020, was organized by the Ministry of National Security with the support of the Jamaica Diaspora Taskforce Action Network (JDTAN), the Jamaica Canada Association (JCA) and Canada Coast to Coast, Too Small to Fail, the Clinton Foundation, the Union of Jamaica Alumni Association (UJAA), the Jamaica Awareness Association of California (JAAC), the Alliance of Jamaican High Schools Associations in Toronto, the UTECH Community Service & Development department and the LASCO Chin Foundation and Eye on Jamaica. The supplies are currently on their way to the island via Dennis Shipping Jamaica Limited.
THIS WEEK’S TOP BUSINESS NEWS
JAMAICA TO REQUIRE VISITORS TO BUY MANDATORY TRAVEL INSURANCE
Edmund Bartlett, Jamaica’s Minister of Tourism, announced that travelers to the country will have to purchase a mandatory travel protection and emergency services plan called “Jamaica Cares.” The cost of the coverage to each traveler will be $40, which will be included as part of the Travel Authorization application process. The program will begin on November 1, 2020, and cover case management, transportation logistics, evacuation, field rescue and repatriation in the event of any medical emergencies that may arise during their visit. These emergencies include natural disasters like hurricanes and COVID-19. The plan provides up to $100,000 of international health coverage for a visitor who is traveling to and from the island, as well as on-island health coverage up to $50,000.
THIS WEEK’S TOP ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT NEWS
JAMAICAN ARTISTS INCLUDED IN VIRTUAL BET HIP-HOP AWARDS EVENT
According to Clyde McKenzie, music consultant, the inclusion of Jamaican artists like Shenseea, Beenie Man, Bounty Killer, Skip Marley, and Koffee at the virtual Hip Hop Awards organized by the Black Entertainment Television (BET) network on October 27, 2020, provided an excellent opportunity for these performers to gain more publicity. They performed in the reggae cypher on a singular rhythm for about five minutes during the telecast. Skip Marley praised BET’s inclusion of Jamaica in the line-up, saying it was an honor to be chosen to represent the culture and that performing his uncle Damian Marley’s “Welcome to Jamrock” riddim made the moment “even more significant.” He applauded BET for recognition reggae and dancehall, and McKenzie noted that the level of exposure is what Jamaican music lacks in the mainstream global media.
THIS WEEK’S TOP SPORTS NEWS
JFF CONFIRMS FIVE LOCAL JAMAICA PLAYERS SET FOR TRAINING CAMP AHEAD OF FRIENDLIES WITH SAUDI ARABIA
The Reggae Boyz are preparing to meet the Saudis in two friendly international competitions that will be played in Riyadh. Dalton Wint, the general secretary of the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF), said the organization will go ahead with its training camp at the University of the West Indies JFF/Captain Horace Burrell Center of Excellence, despite the small number of local players – five have been selected – included among the 24 members of the squad. The camp will begin on November 3, 2020, and will leave Jamaica on November 6, 2020. The players will get tested for COVID-19 on November 4, 2020, and will not enter the camp until they receive the results. The training venue will meet all requirements imposed by the government as well. The local players are Lamar Walker (Portmore), Dennis Taylor (Humble Lion), Ricardo Morris (Portmore) who is a one-time Manchester United promise, Kemal Malcolm (Arnett Gardens), and Jahshaun Anglin (Harbor View). The team is coached by Theodore Whitmore.