Vendors see boost as students head back to classrooms
Vendors in downtown Kingston say they are seeing an increase in persons shopping for uniforms and school shoes following a recent announcement by Prime Minister Andrew Holness that 45,000 primary school students will return to the classrooms on Monday.
However, many of the sellers are now ruing that they did not stock up on school items as some believe that buyers were not going to spend big on back-to-school supplies.
Some say that their decisions were influenced by the stop-start nature in which the Government has been operating since schools were ordered closed in March 2020.
"Bwoy a bout a dozen sale mi lose pon school shoes from Monday because mi tell miself say school nah open back till next year after weh gwan September," said Curtis Pryce, a shoe vendor on the often busy Luke Lane.
He told THE WEEKEND STAR that he had spent thousands of dollars buying school shoes for the 2021/22 academic school year, which the Government postponed after a third wave of COVID-19.
"Normally, mi get a good amount of support when a time fi back-to-school, so when 'Brogad' (Holness) say school might open up inna September mi stock up because a months di yute dem did outta school fah," he said.
Our news team also spoke to several persons who were conducting last-minute shopping for the long-awaited resumption of face-to-face learning.
Tanesha Green, who was spotted looking at materials to make uniforms, said that she was happy for the return of face-to-face classes having spent the better part of two years struggling to keep up with her children's education. She said that none of her four children will be going to school on Monday but she is putting things in order.
"Mi glad fi it, enuh, because mi nah lie, it did difficult bad ... fi have four pickney inna yuh ears every day one time 'bout schoolwork, weh you yourself not even memba, did stressing bad. Mi no know how the teacher dem dweet," she said.
The Government ordered schools to be closed shortly after Health and Wellness Minister Dr Christopher Tufton confirmed the first imported case of the novel coronavirus in March 2020.
However, late last month, Holness said that 376 of the country's 759 primary schools will be reopened to face-to-face classes. Holness also disclosed that 191 of the schools have fewer than 100 students enrolled. Additionally, 185 medium-sized primary schools, which have an average of 630 students and utilise less than 80 per cent of their space, will be reopened.
Meanwhile, the announcement has also seen an increase in business for Barrington Catnot, manager at EG Clothing in Kingston that makes school uniforms. He told THE WEEKEND STAR that the pandemic had forced him to lay off several of his staff.
"Sales dropped significantly from last year ... so I am very happy for this. You know, things got so difficult that I was forced to send home about four workers because no one was placing orders because of the lockdowns," he said.