By DENISE MAYCOCK
Tribune Freeport Reporter
ALL public schools are open in the Grand Bahama district and the ultimate goal is the engagement of face-to-face learning at all institutions, said Ministry of Education District Superintendent Ivan Butler.
While most institutions are providing face-to-face instruction, some have adopted the hybrid model, which utilises both face-to-face and virtual online learning.
“We are pleased with what we have seen to date, and all schools are near capacity,” said Mr Butler. “In the GB district, we aim to engage students in face-to-face instructions as much as possible.”
He said that several schools are using the hybrid model that allows students to be in the classroom three days a week with two days of online learning.
“Eventually, we want all the kids in GB to be face-to-face and at school five days a week, but we are very pleased with how the school has started, and parents and students are excited,” Mr Butler said.
He said that all schools are observing the COVID-19 protocols, wearing masks, sanitising, and practising social distancing.
“We worked with the Ministry of Health and the Department of Environmental Health Services in keeping the environment, students, and teachers safe. And so, we will continue to improve on the protocols we have in place, and we are hoping we have a very successful term and school year.”
Public schools across the country opened on October 5, however the first week was reserved for orientation with the second week for timetable execution.
When asked about the institutions for students not in the mainstream school system, such as Genesis Academy/Programme SURE for troubled teens, and the PACE Centre for pregnant teen girls, Mr Butler said those schools are still undergoing repairs following severe damage by the Hurricane Dorian storm.
In the meantime, students at Genesis Academy are attending mainstream school until their facility is completed and turned over to the Ministry of Education.
“Those two facilities have not been turned over to us as yet. They are being repaired by the Grand Bahama Port Authority, and so we expect to receive those as early as next week,” Mr Butler said.
As a result of significant damage to schools in East Grand Bahama, those institutions are not open and students there are being transported to schqools in Freeport.
“Those schools suffered severe damage during Dorian, and we decided to bring those students from EGB to Freeport. But, plans are in discussion to have a comprehensive school for the east to encompass all the students in the East End. In a short while that bid may go out to tender, and we are looking to put a new school in the east,” he explained.
In West Grand Bahama, Mr Butler also noted that the construction of a new school in Holmes Rock is progressing.
The new $12m Holmes Rock Junior High School has been under contract since 2016.
Brickhouse Construction was awarded the contract to build a two-story, 28,108 sq ft structure in the main building area. It comprises an administration block, staff room and support spaces, student sickbay, computer classroom, library, 16 classrooms, covered walkways, four fire stairwells, and electrical rooms.
RCL was awarded a contract to build a two-story, 10,095 sq ft structure in the main building area that would comprise eight classrooms, four student restroom blocks, covered walkways and breezeways adjacent to the classrooms, in addition to other works.
When asked about that school Mr Butler said: “Work has progressed very well in the new school in the Holmes Rock area. Presently, landscaping is going on and that is a good sign, meaning it should be finished soon. But we made a commitment that as soon as that is handed over to us we will occupy it.”