BUT president Belinda Wilson.
By LEANDRA ROLLE
Tribune Staff Reporter
BAHAMAS Union of Teachers president Belinda Wilson has criticised the Ministry of Education for not consulting teachers on the dates for the re-opening of schools after it was revealed that teaching lessons for students will begin in late September.
In a press statement released on Friday, Education Director Marcellus Taylor said instructions for students will start on September 21, while noting that teachers are expected to report to work on September 7.
This comes amid much uncertainty on how schools across the country will reopen for the Fall semester amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
In March, the government mandated the closure of schools after the country recorded its first COVID-19 case, resulting in many local institutions moving to online classes to allow students to continue their studies at home.
However, it is not clear if students will have to report to their respective schools or continue with virtual classes when the fall semester begins, with Mr Taylor saying a decision will be made on the matter at a later date.
“Decisions regarding whether students must present themselves at the school’s campus will be determined at a later date. Such decisions will be made in accordance with the prevailing public health condition on each island,” he said.
Meanwhile, as it relates to teachers, Mr Taylor said workers are expected to return to their assigned schools on September 7 for mandatory professional development activities, which will continue for the entire week.
“Any teacher wishing to access these sessions away from the school campus must seek the approval of their principal by way of a written request,” he continued. “Conclave sessions will take place on Monday, 31st August, and Tuesday, 1 September 2020, and will be conducted virtually. All school administrators must participate in this event."
Calling the move “disrespectful” and “unprofessional”, Mrs Wilson told The Tribune she felt that a discussion should’ve been held between education officials and all MOE stakeholders in advance before an official decision was made.
“This is just another example of the disrespectful attitude and unprofessional of the director of education... (There has been) no consultation with the teachers or administrators,” she said.
“All of whom are a part of the education system and if you want the process to run smoothly, then everyone should know what the plan is. The plan should be clear and a document of this nature that is setting out new dates and times, that type of decisions should be discussed and reviewed by all stakeholders.”
“So, there should’ve been a coming together and a meeting even as extensive as a few hour sessions so you could look at the pros and cons of the re-opening.”
A memo was sent to the Ministry of Education staff on Thursday, informing teachers of the new changes.
However, according to Mrs Wilson, there is still a need for more details outlining the way forward as it relates to the reopening of schools in the country.
“The (memo) is still saying that they are unsure how schools will open and that’s very important so to send out a circular that is very general in its detail without a plan attached is a waste of time and this shows the gross incompetence of the director of education,” she alleged.
Education Minister Jeff Lloyd recently told reporters that officials will make an announcement next week on the changes that will be implemented for the upcoming school year.
The Tribune also understands he will address all concerns surrounding the re-opening of schools when he speaks in the House of Assembly next week.
Mr Lloyd has previously said officials are considering implementing a blended learning environment, one that will include class rotation and limited face-to-face instruction.
“...Plans are being finalised this week and an announcement will be made and disseminated across the spectrum of the Bahamas early next week and all parents and students and others will be clearly informed as to what,” he said on Tuesday.