Shift system likely for new school year

It is unlikely that the full student body will return to the classroom in September for the start of the new school year, according to Minister of Education Jeffrey Lloyd, who said that plans are being finalized this week to determine the format for reopening schools.

While speaking with reporters outside Cabinet yesterday, Lloyd said there are three options the Ministry of Education is going through.

“We are looking at three models of school reopening, one of which seems to be the more prominent choice that will probably inure to the benefit of students this coming September,” he said.

“One, full educational instruction, which is unlikely if we must maintain physical distance and the various health protocols remain in place as they are now.

“Two, what we call a blended or a shift circumstance…Those who would be otherwise out of the instructional classroom would be transported to a care center still under the supervision of the Ministry of Education.

“Then, another model we are looking at is 100 percent virtual school.”

According to Lloyd, the blended, shift-system model, is the choice the ministry will more than likely choose for the start of the new school year.

“Those plans are being finalized this week and a formal announcement will be made and disseminated across the spectrum of The Bahamas early next week,” Lloyd said.

“All parents and students will be clearly informed.”

The education minister pointed to the fact that there is more than a month and a half left until the start of the school year and that cities and countries around the world are mulling over the same decision.

While speaking with reporters, Lloyd also addressed concerns surrounding national examinations, which got started on Monday.

Bahamas Union of Teachers (BUT) President Belinda Wilson on Monday claimed that there was little to no social distancing, that some students weren’t wearing masks, some teachers and students weren’t given their schedules and that there was confusion regarding the selection of invigilators.

In response, Lloyd expressed disappointment saying he was not made aware of any issues and that Wilson and other critics should consider ways of offering encouragement to students.

“It is regrettable to me and personally disappointing that agents of inspiration and continuing transformation for our young people, at this time in our national circumstance, would provide instead of those motivations and inspiration, more of a defeatist and disappointing posture,” he said.

“If COVID-19 isn’t enough of a despondent reality for so many people, why would those in the educational sphere, stakeholders and otherwise, not be sparks of inspiration, motivation and encouragement for our young people who, like all of us, are in such desperate need for such?

“But you know I am proud of our young people and the resilience that they have demonstrated their own internal self-motivating ethic that they have prepared their exams; they are turning out in the numbers that we expect and that they are going to equip themselves excellently and probably to the shame and disappointment of those who expect them to do otherwise.”

Results for the Bahamas Junior Certificate (BJC) and Bahamas General Certificate of Secondary Education (BGCSE) will be released in September, according to Lloyd.

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