By Rt. Rev. Gary Harriott,
Moderator, United Church in Jamaica & The Cayman Islands
The United Church in Jamaica and the Cayman Islands (UCJCI) has been working in close partnership with the Board of Management of the Oberlin High School in response to the incident which took place during devotions at the school on Wednesday, October 26, 2022.
Oberlin is operated by the UCJCI and the synod has noted the unusual occurrence with concern. A support team including ministers has been deployed to the institution. They have been on-site from the situation transpired providing support and counselling, and have been present at meetings held with stakeholders (students, staff, Board of Management, parents and the Ministry of Education).
The Board of Management and the School’s Administration are cooperating with the Ministry of Education in examining the incident.
We want to reassure parents and guardians that every effort is being made to return normalcy to the school in the shortest possible time. It is our hope that the teaching and learning process can continue in an environment conducive to such and where the safety of all students is guaranteed. We are playing our part to accomplish this in collaboration with the school’s management.
School resumed on Thursday, October 27, 2022, following early dismissal the day before. Parents and guardians are encouraged to send out their children to school.
We continue to take the necessary steps to address the needs of students, staff, and parents, who have been impacted as a result of this traumatic event in the school community.
The United Church has always provided spiritual support to all our institutions and has maintained direct contact through our chaplains. We affirm and promote the holistic growth and development of our students and staff and, certainly, believe that devotions are an integral part of the life of the school in facilitating moral and spiritual formation.
We do believe, we owe it to those who share in the life of our educational institutions to be exposed to such a source of positive influence, rightly, properly and responsibly presented. We commit ourselves to this fully.
We pray that as we continue to deal with these challenges that face us daily, we will discern through God’s Holy Spirit the way forward.