The Ministry of Education yesterday refuted the Bahamas Union of Teachers’ (BUT) claims that public schools are unsafe due to the presence of COVID-19 and lack precautionary equipment ahead of their reopening next month.
Last week, BUT President Belinda Wilson told The Nassau Guardian that teachers were “not confident that the Ministry of Education has the capacity to implement health and safety protocols” for students and teachers throughout The Bahamas.
In a statement yesterday, the ministry said, “The ministry therefore assures the general public, including educators, staff, parents and students sitting the national examinations, that all Ministry of Education facilities and schools, including those being utilized for the national examinations, are safe and that persons need not fear for their safety.”
The resumption of the national exams starts today and ends October 6.
The statement said the Ministry of Health and the Department of Environmental Health Services have also mandated “clear” procedures and protocols for addressing individuals and contacts of individuals diagnosed with COVID-19, and for buildings occupied by individuals suspected of being COVID-positive.
“These requirements are designed to preserve both individual and public health and safety with which the Ministry of Education has always complied in respect of all persons and for all Ministry of Education buildings,” the ministry said.
“Accordingly, the Ministry of Education hereby confirms that while there have been reported cases of persons with COVID-19 infections at a few Ministry of Education schools, those premises were vacated and were subsequently cleaned and sanitized by Environmental Monitoring and Risk Assessment Division (EMRAD) certified COVID-19 cleaning teams in accordance with the Department of Environmental Health requirements, and are safe for all persons to occupy including, where applicable, for the administration of national examinations, beginning on Monday, September 14.
“The public is also reminded that in compliance with Ministry of Health protocols, persons who may have been exposed to a confirmed COVID individual are required to undergo COVID-19 testing, and to submit to quarantine conditions, which then removes such persons from contact with the general public.”
It said the necessary personal protective equipment is in place at all government schools.
The ministry also said that regular cleaning and proper sanitization are being undertaken by custodial staff.
The national exams resume today after being suspended for nearly two months following a spike in COVID-19 cases in The Bahamas.