The Ministry of Education and Youth says it has launched an investigation to help determine the protocols for school devotional exercises.
This follows an incident at Oberlin High School on Wednesday morning that forced the early closure of the West Rural St Andrew-based institution after a number of students began ‘acting abnormally’ during devotion.
“While we encourage devotion in school, our school leaders have a responsibility to exercise caution as to content and likely impact on students as evidenced by the reaction of students at Oberlin High School this morning,” said Education Minister Fayval Williams in a statement on Wednesday evening.
Williams noted the early dismissal of classes at the school after a series of events led to a disruption of normal activities there.
The minister said the school administration reported that during the devotional exercise, a teacher who was leading the worship had an experience that included an extended period of “speaking in tongues”, which triggered a chain reaction of similar expressions among some students.
“Some students reportedly became overwhelmed, some falling to the ground. Other students and teachers attempted to bring calm to the situation, including praying with the affected children. Some were taken to the school nurse’s office,” said Williams.
The minister shared that after the devotion, the students were sent to their classes.
However, the agitated environment led some students to express feelings of being afraid, and others displaying what was described as “abnormal behaviour”.
The administration said given the overall circumstances, school was dismissed at 10am and the students were allowed to leave, except for those on the PATH programme, who were allowed to stay on the compound to collect their lunches.