Juliet Wilson was a mother of Kingston College - School mourns death of beloved VP

September 21, 2020
Juliet Wilson
Juliet Wilson
Kingston College supporters in the stands at Boys Champs
Kingston College supporters in the stands at Boys Champs

Jamaica's runaway COVID-19 death rate continued on the weekend with a beloved school administrator now among the number of persons dying from the respiratory illness.

Juliet Wilson, vice-principal of Kingston College, died on Sunday morning at the University Hospital of the West Indies (UHWI), after being admitted there with COVID-19. Ministry of health data indicate that 67 persons had died from the virus as of Saturday while another deaths are being investigated.

On August 1, Jamaica had recorded 10 deaths among the 883 confirmed positives, but with the country now experiencing community spread, the number of deaths have jumped by 57 in 51 days with 4,988 confirmed cases on the island.

Wilson, who had been at KC since 1995, tested positive for COVID-19. She had underlying illnesses.

"It is with great sadness and a sense of absolute loss that I write to inform you of the passing of our dear friend, colleague and vice-principal Juliet Wilson," Dave Myrie, principal of KC, wrote in an email to members of the school community yesterday. The fraternity was immediately plunged into mourning.

"I'm seriously sad right now," Chad Rattray, past head boy of KC, told THE STAR. "She was my favourite vice principal. This is the worst news for the year for me. I met her in 2012 and we worked closely over the years, especially 2018-2019 as Kingston College's Head Boy. She taught me a lot, shared life lessons and would always motivate me to carry out my responsibilities with passion and sincereness," Rattray said.

"Miss Wilson was a mother of Kingston College having served the school for decades and many generations passing through her hands and care. She will be profoundly missed, and her legacy continues."

Always taught with passion

KC old boy, Gavin Dennis, now a cyber security consultant was not only supervised, but also taught by Wilson.

"She taught me English A and B in fourth and fifth form and I did absolutely well. She always taught with passion. She worked hard to make people better," the KC old boy said.

Likewise, Shamar Wedderburn who was a part of KC's graduating class of 2015, benefited from Wilson's tutelage.

"I won't forget her chiding. To improve. To aim higher. She loved to see honours after honours. She never held back with her words... full of sarcasm. But when you've grown remarkably at the end, she shook your hand and said 'Well done Shamar, well done.' I won't ever forget. This one hurts... I was really hoping she'd pull through," he told THE STAR.

Jasford Gabriel, president of the Jamaica Teachers' Association (JTA), has expressed condolences to the those whose lives would've been impacted by Wilson.

"The JTA would like to express our deepest and sincerest condolences the family, friends, colleagues and students of our dear Juliet Wilson. We're really saddened by this loss and particularly troubled, especially under the circumstances," he said.

The death of Wilson at the hands of COVID-19 has led to an intensification of discussion about the re-opening of schools for face-to-face interactions, starting October. Schools have been closed since March when the virus was first detected on the island.

Nadine Molloy, principal of Ardenne High School, holds is not in support of face-to-face learn being reinstituted on October 5.

"I may be forced to, but I refuse to sanction putting the staff and students at this kind of exposure. I'm not a put off person, but when I look at the rising number of cases, the reports of persons who are critically ill, the number of persons who are dying and the fact that people are not taking it that seriously, I really don't see how we can open school at this point in time," she said.

Darien Henry, principal of Cumberland High School, said "Schools should only be opened when the community spread of COVID-19 has dissipated with significantly reduced risks to all our stakeholders. "

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