NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Unless advised otherwise by the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Education is moving ahead with the resumption of in-person learning in schools within the next two weeks, according to Prime Minister Philip Brave Davis.
Minister of Education Glenys-Hanna Martin and the prime minister spoke to the media following a tour of Sybil Strachan Primary School yesterday, during which the minister said school repairs are expected to be completed this week.
Asked how likely it is for schools to reopen given the surge of coronavirus infections and hospitalizations, Davis said: “We are still aiming to have the schools open within two weeks or as quickly as possible.
“Now I would like to speak to the children of our nation.
“I know that you are anxious to be with your friends, to learn with your friends, to interact with your friends.
“That’s the best means of learning — by being amongst people who you are comfortable with and…we will get you back in the classroom as quickly as possible.”
Davis and Hanna-Martin toured a total of eight schools, including Sybil Strachan Primary, SC McPherson Junior High, CW Sawyer Primary, Yellow Elder Primary, Ridgeland Primary, Claridge Primary, Uriah McPhee Primary and LW Young Junior High.
Davis said repairs are expected to be completed.
As it relates to repairs at Sybil Strachan, he commended the contractors, noting that the scope of works was expected to take six months to complete but the school would have been ready had it opened today.
“The good news here is that the virus that is rampant [does] not, in fact, have the consequences as previous waves and we are watching that and analyzing it now,” Davis said.
“The medical team is analyzing the consequences of it.
“We do not…have vaccines for children and we are working assiduously to have it in.
“We also note that vaccines are not available for children under five years of age, which will impact our preschools, and we intend to at least try to have vaccines for children in-country.
“The virus is an uncertain beast… Today may be safe; tomorrow may not be. It may be safe the next day, but unsafe the following day.
“So, we have to watch and continually assess our position on a daily basis and there might be an explosion now, it might plateau, it might drop precipitously, but we have to watch it.
“We think that there are ways and means of opening the schools safely and wisely and we are waiting for the advice of the medical team, having assessed all of the data that has been gathered so far.”
According to Hanna-Martin, the government has been in dialogue with the education unions, who agree with the government’s plans.