Minister of Education Jeffrey Lloyd’s announcement that schools on Grand Bahama will open “face-to-face” on October 5, while New Providence, Eleuthera and Abaco will resume classes virtually, is one of the most disappointing decisions that the Free National Movement (FNM) administration has made since the COVID-19 outbreak in March.
I feel as if Lloyd is sending Grand Bahamian students on a fool’s errand.
It simply cannot work.
The Ministry of Health’s repeated recommendation of social distancing will be virtually impossible to enforce in the public schools on Grand Bahama, as many, if not all of them, are grossly overcrowded.
For example, at the Maurice Moore Primary School, at least two of the classes, I was informed, had upwards of 40 students prior to COVID-19.
Furthermore, the issue of toddlers regularly washing their hands thoroughly will be downright difficult for the teachers to supervise, owing to the sheer number of students enrolled in the public schools, which will definitely see an increase of enrollments due to thousands of Bahamians losing their jobs over the past five months.
Lloyd’s decision underscores the fact that the FNM’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic has been scattershot at best.
How is it that Eleuthera, with only six confirmed COVID-19 cases, as of August 30, is allowed to take classes virtually, while Grand Bahama, with its 550 cases, is expected to physically attend classes?
I am left to wonder who is advising the Minnis administration.
If it is their objective to make this FNM administration look bad, they have accomplished their goal.
The Minnis administration cannot naively expect all parents to follow proper COVID-19 safety protocols, as many of them view the public-school system as a free babysitting institution.
I have heard true stories of students being sent to school running high temperatures.
I recall on several occasions my kids coming home with unexplained rashes and ailments that they contracted from their sick classmates who were sent to school by their irresponsible parents.
We would then spend upwards of five or more hours at Rand Memorial Hospital seeking medical attention.
With the Rand in its current condition, it would be an utterly disastrous situation in the event there is a COVID-19 outbreak in the schools.
Who will then be held accountable if a Grand Bahamian student becomes gravely ill with COVID-19?
The decision for Grand Bahama has led some to speculate that Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis is punishing Bahamians for the violent and vociferous pushback he received over his abrupt announcement of a seven-day lockdown for New Providence.
It feels as if Grand Bahamians are being unfairly spanked for the unruly behavior of Nassuvians. All throughout the lockdown process, Grand Bahamians, for the most part, have remained calm and poised, as opposed to their New Providence counterparts, some of whom took to Facebook to revile the competent authority immediately following his announcement.
I am beseeching the Minnis administration to rethink its decision, as this could backfire in the worst possible way.
Until a vaccine is discovered, Grand Bahamians would prefer their children doing classes through Facebook or Zoom.
The face-to-face option is too risky at this juncture.
– Kevin Evans