READY TO RESUME: Public schools ready for face-to-face learning once health officials give green light

READY TO RESUME: Public schools ready for face-to-face learning once health officials give green light
(FILE)

Frequent COVID testing being considered for reopening of schools and return to face-to-face learning

NASSAU, BAHAMAS — While the majority of public schools across the country are prepared for face-to-face learning, Director of Education Marcellus Taylor said on Monday that the ministry awaits the advice of health officials amidst the current COVID-19 climate.

Over the past few weeks, officials from the Ministry of Education and Ministry of Health have toured several schools to get an on-the-ground view of their state of readiness.

Director of Education Marcellus Taylor.

In an interview with Eyewitness News, Taylor said health officials have asked the Ministry of Education to consider regular, frequent testing. 

“We still have to figure out how that would look and how that would work,” he noted.

The education director noted that of the schools toured last week on Cat Island, Long Island and Exuma, only one is not ready for students, due to ongoing repairs that began during the virtual learning period. 

“By and large, our schools are ready and people are ready for some level of face-to-face engagement,” Taylor said. 

“The big thing that will turn everything for us is what is the public health situation at the time.

“The department’s preferred modality is face-to-face…but when the public health situation dictates otherwise, we utilize the other models.

“We have seen COVID-19 cases have dropped, but we have also seen clusters burst out in some Family Island communities. 

Students at Eva Hilton Primary School demonstrate one of the protocols in place for the return of in-person learning on Tuesday, February 23, 2021. (BIS PHOTO/PATRICK HANNA)

“These are the type of things our colleagues in health are looking at and once they give us advice that we are safe to move in a modality outside of virtual, we will be ready to go.”

Taylor said there are major structural works being undertaken at several schools on New Providence that would prevent them from opening if face-to-face were to be reimplemented. 

He noted that the ministry continues to follow its Strategic Plan for the Safe Reopening of Schools 2020, which covers policies for face-to-face, hybrid and remote/online learning models.

Public schools reopened virtually on August 30 for the start of the 2021/2022 academic year, “out of an abundance of caution”.

The director of education also noted on Monday that over 20,000 students and 2,000 teachers have been accessing the ministry’s virtual platform to participate in classes.

Minister of State for Education Zane Lightbourne told reporters ahead of the weekly Cabinet meeting yesterday that the government hopes students will return to face-to-face learning before the end of the year.

About Sloan Smith

Sloan has spent the past four years as a lead news writer immersed in the field, covering a range of investigative breaking news developments. She produces daily salient pieces on natural disasters, crime, politics, policy, human-interest, and socioeconomic realities.

1 comments

Has Abaco & the surrounding Cays been inspected?
Private schools in Abaco have been opening one after the other, but NO public schools are open. The Public school sector will have NO students – VERY soon. Students are being taken in by the Private Schools.
Classrooms as small as 2 students and 6 students cant meet! What is this?!
The less privileged are the less educated- THAT is the fact ! How will that carry through the future of this
Bahamas?

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