EducationLifestyles

Private schools return to face-to-face learning

Government sector still in virtual mode

While the public school system is still in a virtual learning format, a number of private institutions have returned students to campus for face-to-face learning, albeit, hybrid.

Queen’s College (QC) began full on-campus classes for its Foundation Years on Tuesday, October 12; Primary Years students returned to campus on Wednesday, October 13 with two grades per day; and high school, one to two grades per day, beginning today (October 18) and two to three grades per day beginning Monday, November 1.

QC Principal Reverend Henry Knowles said they know that the best place for children to learn is in the classroom and that they worked tirelessly to make it happen.

“This has been and continues to be a challenging time for us all,” said Knowles. “COVID-19 is still present throughout the community and we cannot drop our guard in any way. We cannot become complacent. Queen’s College will continue to implement strict health and safety protocols in the best interest of all. These include, consistent and correct wearing of masks, social distancing to the largest extent possible, hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette, cleaning and disinfection of the campus, thorough contact tracing, and the cooperation of parents to promote a safe campus for all. Students who are ill or may have been exposed to COVID-19 are not to come on campus.”

With vaccination the most important step, he said that can be taken to protect students and their families from COVID-19, and with everyone 12 and older eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, Knowles said at QC, they “strongly encourage our staff, students and their families to become fully vaccinated”.

As for travel protocols, unvaccinated students and families who traveled internationally, he said, can return to school after five days, once proof of a negative antigen test is submitted to healthcentre@qchenceforth.com.

Fully-vaccinated students/families at QC who traveled may return to school after proof of vaccination status is received and the negative COVID-19 result, that was required to return to the country, is submitted to healthcentre@qchenceforth.com.

Knowles urged parents to work in tandem with the institution.

“We are confident that, together, we can synergize to maintain on-campus learning with limited interruptions,” said Knowles.

Students at St. Augustine’s College (SAC) returned to the classroom on Tuesday, October 12.

“In an earlier update [August], we advised that we would look at in-person classes on a rotation basis by mid-October,” said Sonja Knowles, principal.

“Class/subject schedule is the same as the virtual learning schedule. School will be dismissed at the end of eighth period (2:50 p.m.). Students must wear complete and proper uniform and must abide by all school regulations. In order to attend classes, all students (male and female) must be properly groomed. Failure to follow regulations will result in student dismissal from the campus until the situation is corrected.”

The face-to-face learning models came on the heels of all Catholic Board of Education (CBE) schools reopening on Monday, October 4, using the hybrid model of learning.

In CBE primary schools on New Providence, students in pre-kindergarten, kindergarten, grades one and six attend daily. Students in grades two through five, attend on alternate days. In Grand Bahama and Abaco, where the enrollment is smaller, all primary school students attend daily while secondary students continue with virtual instruction. Senior students at Aquinas College attend daily and students of grades seven through 11 attend school on alternate days.

“As we continue to operate in a fluid environment, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, schedules are subject to change,” said Claudette Rolle, CBE director. “Each school has produced a face-to-face reopening guide outlining all the precautions being taken to manage risks as effectively as possible and to ensure all of our schools are safe environments for students, teachers and staff.”

CBE schools include Aquinas College; Mary, Start of the Sea Catholic Academy; St. Francis de Sales School; St. Cecilia’s School; Sts. Francis & Joseph School; St. Thomas More School; Xavier’s Lower School; and Every Child Counts.

The Anglican Central Education Authority (ACEA) resumed face-to-face instruction on October 12 in accordance with the approval from the Ministry of Education, with only 50 percent of the total student enrollment being permitted on campus each day, said Italia Davies, ACEA director.

“This will mean that we revert to a hybrid schedule, which will require students to be placed on rotation, alternating between face-to-face on-campus classes and virtual at-home classes. However, it is our intent to maximize learning opportunities for the examination classes of grades three, six, nine and 12.”

Students of grades nine and 12 will return to school face to face daily.

Students of grades three through six will return to school face to face daily.

Students of grades four and five will return to school on a four-day rotational cycle – two days face-to-face classes and two days at-home virtual classes. Fridays will be virtual classes for all fourth and fifth-grade students.

Students of grades seven and eight will return to school for face-to-face classes on a six-day rotational cycle – three days on-campus and three days at-home virtual classes.

Students of grades 10 and 11 will return to school for face-to-face classes on a six-day rotational cycle – three days on-campus and three days at-home virtual classes.

“We are endeavoring to implement a plan that will ensure that students, staff, and parents remain safe and healthy,” said Davies.

She said they are requiring parents to observe all safety protocols set out by the school. And that families and staff are reminded to adhere to current government guidelines and to maintain open communication with the school about health issues.

Davies said parents have limited access to campus and that no sick children will be allowed in face-to-face classes. And that they strongly encourage all students 12 years and older to get vaccinated.

While private institutions have reopened in some fashion, the Ministry of Education’s schools remain on the virtual platform.

“While the preferred mode of instructional delivery continues to be face to face, the Ministry remains guided by the mantra of safety first, education always,” it said in a press statement, released on August 20, on the reopening of schools.

The decision was to be reviewed in a “few weeks” – but the ministry did not give a timeframe.

“We will continue to monitor closely the state of this ever-evolving public health challenge to determine when it is safe for our students to return to our campuses,” read the ministry’s statement. “Our mission remains to provide all persons in The Bahamas with a quality education, yet we are all aware that this is only possible if we maintain a standard of safety first and education always.”

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Shavaughn Moss

Shavaughn Moss joined The Nassau Guardian as a sports reporter in 1989. She was later promoted to sports editor. Shavaughn covered every major athletic championship from the CARIFTA to Central American and Caribbean Championships through to World Championships and Olympics. Shavaughn was appointed as the Lifestyles Editor a few years later.

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