The Bahamas AIDS Foundation has received permission from the Competent Authority to assist a small number of primary school-aged children to access and benefit from the Ministry of Education’s virtual learning platform in a safe and supervised space.
For the last 10 years the Foundation has operated an outreach programme for children and adolescents infected and affected by HIV/AIDS. This programme is comprised of three components: afterschool tutoring, psychosocial intervention and medical support.
Like so many in our community, the ability of many of the participants in the outreach programme to learn has suffered tremendously as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. The difficulties encountered include food insecurity, access to the internet, working space, suitable adult supervision and assistance with the technical aspects of the virtual learning platform.
In response, the AIDS Foundation has set up a safe, supervised study centre for primary school children to spend the school day (8.45am-3pm) engaged in their virtual lessons. They will be kept in small groups (bubbles according to grade levels) and interact with the same tutor every school day.
Through the kind support of donors, the AIDS Foundation has secured the necessary devices on which the students may participate in their virtual classes. During the pandemic the Foundation has been fortunate to receive assistance from corporate donors such as the Credit Suisse Foundation, First Caribbean International Bank, JS Johnson, Open Current and the Securities Commission, as well as the Errol Brown Foundation and the general public.
All of the COVID-19 health protocols including mask wearing, social distancing, hand sanitising and washing, temperature checks, and sanitising frequently touched areas and objects multiple times a day will be followed. The children will stay in their assigned bubbles as they access their virtual classrooms as well as during their breaks. The Foundation’s social worker and case aide will remain in contact with guardians/parents concerning the health statuses of family members as it relates to COVID-19.
The Foundation is appealing for the assistance of additional volunteer tutors with teaching experience to assist the students.
Although the Foundation has been unable to hold its primary fundraising event this year, the Red Ribbon Ball, it is seeking donations through its Let’s Not Attend and Fun Run Walk Cycle campaigns.
In this difficult economic environment any donation would be helpful in enabling the work of the Foundation to continue, representatives said. Further details can be obtained by visiting the Foundation’s website at www. bahamasaidsfoundation.org or calling 242- 325-9326/7.