Layoffs hit Anglican church, schools

The Anglican Diocese of The Bahamas and Turks and Caicos announced today that due to the impact of COVID-19, a total of 66 staff members will be laid off from the Diocesan Office, two schools on New Providence (St. John’s College and St. Anne’s School) and one school on Exuma (St. Andrew’s Anglican School).

“After careful analysis of our central administration and educational system, we regret to say that we have taken the difficult decision to lay off 14 Diocesan Office staff and a total of 52 staffers from three of our schools (St. John’s College, St. Anne’s School and St. Andrew’s School),” the Diocese said in a statement.

“This decision will not apply to Bishop Michael Eldon School because the Grand Bahama community is still recovering from Hurricane Dorian.

“All remaining staff in the Diocesan Office and in the schools will be placed on half pay.

“This approach was taken in order to allow all entities to be sustained for as long as possible on this challenging landscape where only scarce resources are available but where life must continue.

“Based on what is happening in our communities, no one should be surprised by these measures, or fail to understand the rationale behind same, even though painful.

The church called for all Bahamians to continue to pray.

“We are still the church and Jesus is still alive.”

It added, “Like every entity in our two countries, The Bahamas and the Turks and Caicos Islands, the Anglican Diocese (Central Office, parishes and schools) is living under the protocols occasioned by COVID-19, and has been severely negatively impacted by the consequence of such protocols.

“The financial repercussions have affected us all. Against this backdrop and in light of the dire and extreme economic forecast globally, we have sought to exercise the Sacred Heart of Jesus, Christian charity, sound judgement and clear thinking as a part of our good stewardship.”

Exactly one month ago, Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis announced that all schools will be closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic shortly after the country confirmed its first case.

At that time, schools were set to re-open yesterday, April 14, but due to the continued increase in the number of cases the Ministry of Education announced last week that schools will remain closed until further notice.

Churches have also closed their doors to congregants in an effort to adhere to social distancing guidelines. Services are now livestreamed.

Meanwhile, with numerous businesses having closed their doors due to the impact of the pandemic, Minister of Public Service and National Insurance Brensil Rolle noted on Monday that nearly 30,000 people have applied for unemployment assistance so far.

The novel coronvirus has disrupted all facets of life across the globe, The Bahamas being no exception. The country remains on a 24 hour curfew as a means to stop the spread of the virus, which has killed eight people in The Bahamas so far. Globally, there are over 2 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 and over 128,000 deaths.

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