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School year will begin with remote learning, minister says

Public school students will begin the 2020/2021 academic year with remote learning, Minister of Education Jeffrey Lloyd announced yesterday.

“Based on the current outlook, the ministry has decided that it would be in the best interest of our staff and students to begin the new school year by adapting 100 percent remote learning,” he said.

“However, as we monitor the status of health conditions over a period of time, if circumstances permit by October 5th, there may be a possible transition from remote instruction to the hybrid or blended model of learning.”

The Ministry of Education previously announced that the school year is slated to begin on September 21.

Lloyd said education officials have developed three instructional models as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has continued to shape the way students are taught.

The models are face-to-face learning, hybrid/ blended learning and online learning.

Lloyd said that given the uncertainty of the pandemic, all of the models will be used, depending on the specific situation and school.

He noted that the face-to-face model is the ideal arrangement, especially for students in pre-primary, primary and even middle schools as it guarantees “their most effective social, emotional, intellectual, physical, cultural and spiritual development”.

But he noted that “unless our heavenly father grants us supernatural miracle, it is highly unlikely that we will be able to proceed with this model throughout most of our schools”.

He continued, “The Bahamas is an archipelago with schools in many different environments.

“Therefore, one size does not fit all. What works best in one scenario may not be best for another.”

Lloyd noted that health and safety standards will be rigidly observed and enforced on campuses through a number of measures.

“There will be the wearing of masks in public for children, where appropriate; physical distancing, with a classroom capacity of 20 square feet per student; staggered lunchtimes; cancelation of general assemblies where crowds gather; temperature checks; the utilization of multiple entry and exit points on campuses; and engaging additional busses to transport students to and from campuses,” he said.

The minister’s comments came a day after national examinations were temporarily suspended as a result of a lockdown on Grand Bahama. The suspension of examinations was the second one in months. Initially, the exams were to take place during May and June. However, the country was still in the midst of stringent measures to combat the first wave of COVID-19 infections.

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