NASSAU, BAHAMAS — The Ministry of Education yesterday advised Bahamian students studying abroad to give serious consideration to switching to online courses or a local institution instead of traveling overseas during the pandemic.
In a statement, the ministry underscored the uncertainty regarding the international travel of Bahamians planning to attend schools, colleges and universities abroad during the fall 2020 semester, which begins this month.
“In light of these challenges, and having regard to the Ministry of Health’s advice with respect to The Bahamas’ second “surge”, along with, the Ministry of Education advises students studying abroad to first contact their respective universities/schools to determine that institution’s proposed course of action for the upcoming school year, and to be guided accordingly,” the statement read.
“The Ministry further advises students and their parents that where possible, serious consideration should be given to commencing or continuing their education online, or availing themselves of local tertiary opportunities, rather than seeking to travel overseas at this challenging time.
“This affords students the benefits of a protective hedge against the possible contraction of the corona virus, as well as the huge savings that families will realize from not having to expend precious financial resources on housing and other living expenses.
It continued: “College and university students may also wish to consider deferring the commencement of studies until January, 2021.
“The Ministry of Education remains supportive of students’ goals of attaining school or tertiary level education. However, the health of our students is of greatest concern for the Ministry. As always, we will be guided by health officials in all recommendations advanced for the safe operation of schools and tertiary institutions throughout The Bahamas.”
The ministry underscored the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted more than 190 countries, and many countries, including The Bahamas, have instituted border restrictions.
It noted the US Embassy has announced that while the processing of visas for students seeking to return to the US has re- commenced, there is no firm date for the processing of visas for new students seeking to enter the US.
“To date, more than 600,000 persons have died worldwide, including 14 here at home,” the statement read.
“It is not “business as usual”, as enunciated by the Prime Minister in his last national address. In fact, we are experiencing what is termed a “second wave” of the pandemic, and are in the midst of a “surge”, with more than 500 COVID-19 cases recorded nationwide.
“Under ordinary circumstances, this is the time of the year when many families are excitedly preparing their children to start school. This year is different, as the start of schools and tertiary institutions has been greatly impacted by this “second wave”.
The Ministry of Education has decided that the 2020/2021 school year will begin with its virtual platform only; which essentially means there will be no face to face instruction, until conditions improve.
The University of The Bahamas has also announced its intention to do the same, and many schools, colleges and universities abroad have also opted to begin their semester online only.