BUT president Belinda Wilson.
By EARYEL BOWLEG
Tribune Staff Reporter
HEALTH and safety protocols have to be clear before any final decision is made regarding the reopening of schools for face-to-face instruction, according to comments sent by Bahamas Union of Teachers president Belinda Wilson.
She said she has had a preliminary discussion with the Minister of Education about the possibility of schools reopening in January 2022 and a meeting is planned with the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Education and the union for a comprehensive discussion on the way forward.
“It is paramount that prior to any final decisions being made that the health and safety protocols are clear and agreed and that schools must have adequate cleaning supplies,” she said.
“Classrooms must reflect social distancing capacity and we would like to know if free COVID testing is going to be made available for teachers and students. We will examine closely the protocols as our number one priority is safety for teachers and students.
“The teaching model that is proposed by the Ministry of Education is very important whether it be fully face-to-face or a hybrid model because each of these have their own variations which have implications for teaching and learning outcomes.
“So there must be a review of the curriculum, the timetables, the examinations (internal and external) with a view of redeeming some of the lost time and engage students for a positive outcome.”
The comments came after the Ministry of Education held a press conference where it was announced all schools in the country will reopen for in-person instruction in the second week of January with just a few exceptions. It was said the learning model is expected to be hybrid instruction at first.
“The procedures and policies for schools reopening as mandated by the Ministry of Health and Wellness, which we expect to be hybrid in the first instance gradually leading to full face-to-face instruction,” Minister of Education Glenys Hanna Martin said on Monday.
“Based on advice from the Ministry of Health and Wellness, I am gratified to be able to announce the reopening of classrooms nationwide, including New Providence in the second week of January 2022.
“We are in a pandemic and the (ministry) has been fully guided by the Ministry of Health and Wellness as to when face-to-face instruction may resume and the safety protocols in the classroom and on school premises to facilitate face-to-face instruction.”
However, there are several schools that are under repair and will likely not be ready for face-to-face instruction in January, 2022: L W Young Jr High School; Yellow Elder Primary; Sybil Strachan Primary; Ridgeland Primary; Uriah McPhee Primary; S C McPherson Jr High; Centre for the Deaf; C W Sawyer Primary; Carlton Francis Primary; Columbus Primary; James Pinder Primary; and Gambier Primary.
Mrs Hanna Martin said the children who attend the affected schools will also enjoy face-to-face learning.
“As it relates to the students of these schools, the ministry is devising alternate plans to facilitate face-to-face and that these children will be in school,” she said. “I repeat, these children will also be in face-to-face instruction. The bottom line is that these students will be in school.”