After nearly a year, face-to-face learning will resume at most public schools on New Providence, Abaco, Exuma and Eleuthera this morning.
The schools that are opening will open using the hybrid model, where in-person and virtual learning are both used.
“It is without credible debate or contradiction that for most of our Bahamian students, the in-person instruction is the better mode of the learning experience,” Minister of Education Jeffrey Lloyd said yesterday during a press conference.
However, due to factors like ongoing construction and repairs, there are several public schools that will not resume in-person learning today and will, however, continue with virtual classes only.
On New Providence, Anatol Rodgers High resumes in-person learning on Friday with grades 7 and 10 only, while R. M. Bailey Senior High resumes in-person learning on Friday with grade 10 only, according to District Superintendent Theophilus Claridge.
Officials said parents and students should follow the schools’ social media pages for updates on when the other grades are to return.
According to District Superintendent Janice Moss, several other schools on the island are also not reopening today.
They include Naomi Blatch Preschool, Yellow Elder Primary, Gambier Primary, Sybil Strachan Primary, Centre for The Deaf, T. G. Glover Primary and Gerald Cash Primary.
For the schools that are opening, only 50 percent of the student body is allowed on campus at a time in line with Ministry of Health recommendations.
Parents have also been urged to contact their children’s schools.
When asked for an explanation on why construction and renovation are still underway on some public schools, despite the extra months of closure brought on by the pandemic, Lloyd responded, “Two fundamental reasons: COVID-19 and funding.”
The construction industry was one of the few allowed to operate while many others were shut down during the initial phases of the pandemic in The Bahamas.
When pressed further, Lloyd responded, “When those constructions were allowed, many of the schools were able to complete those repairs. To the extent that funding wasn’t available, those schools that were impacted were not able to complete their repairs.”
Parents have been encouraged to send their children to school with masks, personal hand sanitizer and a packed lunch, if they can.
Those on the lunch program will be supplied with lunch.
Bahamas Union of Teachers President Belinda Wilson said on Sunday the union’s shop stewards will conduct their own inspections this morning and if safety standards and protocols are not met, teachers would be prepared to leave the classrooms.
When asked about this, Lloyd responded, “We have three models of instructions: face-to-face, blended or remote. Whichever is required at any time, we would employ.”
Director of Education Marcellus Taylor said if there were to be any suspected cases of COVID-19 on any of the campuses, there are two main requirements: “Contact the surveillance unit at the Ministry of Health and contact the Department of Environmental Health Services.”
He once again stressed that students are required to wear uniforms for in-person learning.
However, those who cannot afford uniforms should contact their school’s administrator, who should be able to assist, according to Taylor.
He said a private donor is assisting the ministry with providing students with uniforms.