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Track and Field
Monday, January 25, 2021
Finding the Balance - JAAA Navigating Exams & Carifta Games

Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association (JAAA) First Vice-President Ian Forbes says that the body intends not to compromise the academics of student-athletes in light of the Carifta Games being pushed back to this summer, writes Daniel Wheeler/Staff Reporter for the Jamaica-Gleaner.

The North American, Central American, and Caribbean Athletic Association said on Friday that the 49th edition of the Games will now be held from July 2 to 4 in Bermuda because of the coronavirus pandemic. The decision potentially causes conflicts for junior athletes who would be sitting Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate examinations as well as Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examinations during that period. The Caribbean Examination Council (CXC) has recently recommended moving the exams from May-June to June-July based on their psychometrical analysis.

When asked if the JAAA would reach out to the CXC for guidance, Forbes said that the executive would meet in short order to determine the best way forward but expects that input would be also given by other territories. [But] he has reiterated finding an acceptable medium to not comprise the student-athletes’ exams.

“Separate and apart from the public-health crisis with respect to the pandemic, the academic side has to be considered carefully, and, of course, we at the JAAA will discuss it further,” he said. “It’s a delicate balance, and it’s one which has to be examined carefully.”

Bermuda National Athletics Association President Donna Raynor said that the revised date is suitable for her country.

“That first weekend in July is a good weekend for us,” she said. “It fits in well with our calendar and our school system. School is out in July. It’s the perfect weekend, and the weather will be great in July, not as cold as in April.”

However, a revised scheduled for the examinations has not yet been released on CXC’s website, with only the timetable for May-June 2021 available.

The new date has brought mixed reactions from Calabar High assistant coach Omar Hawes and Jamaica College head coach Neil Harrison. Hawes says the school and CXC will have to get involved to find a workaround for those athletes selected for the team.

“For us at Calabar, with the team training, we just have to make sure that they [are ready] to do their jobs, and if they are training for Carifta, then they seek an audience with the CXC to try and [find a solution],” Hawes said. “We have to sit and talk to the school and those who are doing the education aspect and see how we can coincide as a unit in terms of training and preparation for exams.”

Harrison said that he is encouraged by a date being set as it removes the lingering uncertainty and provides a target to work towards to compete and also to determine the best path forward from an academic perspective.

“The important thing is to know what is happening,” he said. “[For the athletes,] it gives you a little comfort to know that all right, there’s a date set. Something is going to happen. I know that I have exams, but I know that this (Carifta) is going to happen, so I can plan.”
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