Reopening schools

Dear Editor,

It is agreed that most parents and maybe a slim majority of students want to get back into classes as soon as possible.

Teachers, I am sure, are also eager to get back to a physical teaching environment but are fearful, as they should be, of the impact of the new coronavirus. 

In an abundance of caution, I do not advise that we should rush to reopen on a physical label.

The pandemic is a stealth potential killer disease and is highly contagious.

While some opine that younger school-aged children are not susceptible to or are at a lower risk of contracting the disease, other statistics indicate differently in isolated cases. In other words, no one knows for sure what is the true science.

Online and distance learning are now the new normal and students; teachers and parents will have to adjust accordingly. Not all Bahamian households are able to afford a laptop or desktop computer device. The government is cashed-strapped and revenue has gone south.

I invite the owners of the lucrative web stores to purchase 10,000 or so of such devices and donate them to the ministry for distribution to the most needy students based on necessity and not political affiliation.

They did say some years ago while they were seeking legalization and favorable regulations that the industry would set up a foundation for educational, sporting and civic purposes. Did they ever get around to doing this?

Subject to a successful vaccination or the natural disappearance of the coronavirus, our public and private schools must remain closed.

Distance and online education must be encouraged and the appropriate protocols put in place. We cannot run the ever present risk of a child or teacher going into the classroom and being exposed to the disease and taking it home to family members.

We all saw what happened over in Freeport when the borders reopened. The second surge has come at us with a vengeance and we are now on a national lockdown.

Teachers themselves, who are not already computer literate, should be offered complimentary tuition facilitated by the government through BTVI or some similar body over the course of the next few weeks.

I have complete faith in the ability, focus and common sense of Minister Lloyd and his team at the MOE led by brother Marcellus Taylor.

They will get it right and our students, teachers and parents will all be safe and sound.

Ortland H. Bodie Jr.

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