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‘Infections Still Affecting Schools’

BUT president Belinda Wilson.

BUT president Belinda Wilson.

By LEANDRA ROLLE

Tribune Staff Reporter

lrolle@tribunemedia.net

BAHAMAS Union of Teachers President Belinda Wilson is again calling on education officials to ensure COVID-19 safety protocols are being followed in public schools after claiming infections are still affecting public schools.

The BUT president made the plea in a statement released yesterday, where she identified five schools with COVID cases.

According to Mrs Wilson, they include the Thelma Gibson Primary, Sadie Curtis Primary, Uriah McPhee Primary, Gambier Primary and Government High. She said concerns of a teacher shortage have been expressed about at least one school.

When contacted for comment yesterday, Education Director Marcellus Taylor could not say exactly how many schools had recorded confirmed cases to date but insisted that schools across the country are not experiencing a COVID outbreak.

He said: “At this time, the Ministry of Education is confident that any and all cases of COVID-19 that come in any of our schools is addressed based on the established protocols, the protocols that we agreed that have been endorsed by both the Ministry of Health and Department of Environmental Health Services which have been shared with all of our stakeholders and until the environment becomes such that we cannot safely maintain persons within our schools, we will follow that prescription meaning the prescription we have in dealing with suspected or positive cases of COVID-19 and we will continue to press on providing quality education.”

He was speaking about the Ministry of Education’s Strategic Plan for the Safe Reopening of Schools, which was released last November.

The 94-page report outlines procedures in the event of suspected cases and also details guidelines for parents and all levels of school staff to follow from pre-arrival to departure from campus to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Yesterday, Mrs Wilson urged officials to ensure that safety measures are being adhered to. She also raised concern with the fact that education officials are allegedly not providing timely information on the new cases.

However, Mr Taylor conceded that officials do not always get the information right away.

He also said there are instances where teachers and other staff members report their positive results to friends and colleagues first before telling their superiors.

Other grievances noted by the BUT include staff shortages due to COVID exposure among other things.

Mrs Wilson added that teachers have to pay for testing and said it is “unfair” that quarantine time is being deducted from normal sick leave.

She also said: “Teachers are fearful for their health. A concern now that many students even some entire grade levels are in quarantine and teachers are also in quarantine. The concern of teacher shortage was expressed in at least one school.”

Speaking on the staff shortage, Mr Taylor only said the issue is not a new phenomenon in the public school system and added that there was a need for more teachers even prior to COVID.

As it relates to other concerns, the education director said: “There are policies that govern workers in the public service and what we do at the Ministry of Education is we follow them, if there is a breach of it, there are mechanisms in place for individuals or representative groups to make a grievance and have it adjudicated so if they think their rights are being violated, they know what the mechanisms are to have it addressed.”

Last month, Education Minister Jeffrey Lloyd told reporters he had “no concern at all” that an outbreak will occur at schools open for face-to-face learning, insisting that officials are following the recommended health measures.

He said at the time: “No, I have no concern at all because we’re doing what the health officials have asked us to do and that is to maintain all of the protocols that we are required to maintain — social distance, wash your hands, wear your mask, and so on. This is an issue of personal responsibility.”

In April, officials said five individuals — students and staff members — tested positive in New Providence over the previous two weeks.

Suspected cases of COVID-19 were reported in the following New Providence schools in April: HO Nash Junior High School; LW Young Junior High School; Sadie Curtis Primary School; Carlton Francis Primary School; CR Walker Senior High School; TG Glover Primary School and Garvin Tynes Primary School.

Schools across the country closed in March 2020 as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic but were later reopened after the summer break last October.

However, schools in New Providence, Abaco, Eleuthera and Exuma were teaching virtually until given the go ahead to begin phased face-to-face learning in February.

Comments

Cobalt 1 year ago

Wow. Not sure what to do here. The truth is, we got caught with our pants down. The MOE along with the government never established adequate internet technology capable of covering a nationwide grid. Unfortunately Cable Bahamas nor BTC have the bandwidth ability to sustain high speed internet across the country. As a result, virtual learning remains almost impossible.

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JokeyJack 1 year ago

Belinda, i love ya when you fight the good fight ... but youre off base on this. Would all yall please get ya hips back in the classroom and let the kids come in? Come on man. Yall talk like ya got 5 hearse park up in front each school every day. Muddo.

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Cobalt 1 year ago

Ohhh geez. Are you even aware of what’s going on? Have you ever heard of infection control? The whole idea is to prevent the spread of the virus by initiating primary and secondary interventions. By doing so, you limit the need for tertiary interventions which (in your own words) may include the need of a hearse. Disease prevention is the name of the game and the whole idea behind disease prevention is to act prospectively rather than retrospectively! And with COVID19 cases beginning to increase within the various schools around the Bahamas, the smart thing would be to suspend face to face lectures when and wherever positive cases are reported! For Gods sake, please stop being so dumb! Smt.

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carltonr61 1 year ago

British scientists just warned healthy persons under 40 not to take AZ vaccine. Too late for many young hotel workers.

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OMG 1 year ago

Once again an innacurate statement. British scientists have suggested that under 40 year olds should be OFFERED an alternative. In reality you have a greater chance of a blood clot by taking the birth control pill, a long haulflight being bed bound in hospital and for a multitude of other medical problems.

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SP 1 year ago

Last month Education Minister Jeffrey Lloyd told reporters he had “no concern at all” This is an issue of personal responsibility.”

Suspected cases of COVID-19 were reported in the following New Providence schools in April: HO Nash Junior High School; LW Young Junior High School; Sadie Curtis Primary School; Carlton Francis Primary School; CR Walker Senior High School; TG Glover Primary School and Garvin Tynes Primary School.

Why be proactive. Let's wait and see if teachers and students infection rate become overwhelming. Then government can go into reactionary mode as usual!

Jackass does as Jackass is.

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Cobalt 1 year ago

Agreed SP. When Jeff Lloyd made that statement some weeks ago I was shocked. I was actually scratching my head trying to figure out what in the world he was talking about.

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