BUT president Belinda Wilson.
By EARYEL BOWLEG
Tribune Staff Reporter
AN alarm was sounded several months ago that not only was the Ministry of Education’s virtual platform inoperable, but that schools were in a dire need for repair, according to Bahamas Union of Teachers President Belinda Wilson.
Mrs Wilson spoke to The Tribune on Friday following Education Minister Glenys Hanna Martin’s disclosure in Parliament that many students are now considered drop-outs because they could not access the virtual platform. She further stressed her disappointment that the former Minnis administration did not ensure that the annual school repair programme continued.
Following the September 16 general election, BUT had an extensive meeting with Mrs Hanna Martin when these concerns were aired.
“Many concerns were discussed, including the concerns surrounding schools being closed and the myriad of challenges teachers and students face with the LMS and EMIS and the virtual platform in general,” Mrs Wilson said in remarks sent to The Tribune. “Another meeting will be held with a view to having these issues resolved sooner than later.
“Minister Hanna Martin and President Belinda Wilson are communicating daily on various matters. Schools will not reopen face-to-face or in a hybrid model without the Bahamas Union of Teachers being at the table.”
She also said: “President Wilson was saying for the past 20 months that the virtual platform is inoperable and inadequate so she expects that to be addressed. The alarm was sounded months ago by Wilson who said publicly that there are many schools that repairs were incomplete.”
“So, schools' physical plant must be conducive for learning and the safe occupation of teachers and students. The BUT is ready to work with the Minister of Education and the Minister of Health to ensure that education gets a much-needed reboot.”
In the House of Assembly Wednesday, the minister said while officials hoped to soon announce a date for the resumption of face-to-face learning, several schools will be unable to open due to an unsatisfactory state of repair.
The Englerston MP did not give a timeline for the in-person opening of schools.
However, she said the schools that suffered “egregious neglect” and will not open include L W Young, Yellow Elder Primary, C W Sawyer Primary, Ridgeland Primary, Sybil Strachan Primary, Uriah McPhee Primary, S C McPherson Junior High School, Gerald Cash Primary School, Carlton Francis Primary and the Centre for the Deaf.
All Family Island schools are ready to open with the exception of George Town Primary and L N Coakley High, both in Exuma, the minister said.
“We understand that there is much anxiety and angst and growing concern as to the question of the resumption of face-to-face instruction as it is clear that this is the ideal method in teaching instruction and student learning for a myriad of reasons,” Mrs Hanna Martin said at the time.
“It is also understood the pressures placed on children, teachers and parents operating in a hybrid or fully virtual school environments and those who have fallen outside of the system and the damage being caused.
“We are preparing for the resumption of face-to-face instruction in our public schools, but cannot do so until our health officials say that it is safe to do so and mandate the requisite health protocols to be undertaken to assure a safe environment for all.
“We must also work closely with parents and the unions to seek to allay any concerns they may have,” the minister said.