Bahamas Union of Teachers President Belinda Wilson recommended the cancellation of the remainder of the school year and the postponement of all national examinations until October or November due to ongoing concerns about the COVID-19 pandemic.
Minister of Education Jeffrey Lloyd said on Wednesday that there are no plans to cancel national examinations or the school year. However, Wilson who was a guest on the Guardian Radio 96.9 FM show “Morning Blend” with host Dwight Strachan, said Lloyd’s suggestion is “impractical”.
“I believe that it is illogical and I’ll give you my reasoning,” she said.
“I recommended for the Ministry of Education to cancel the scheduled sittings of our examinations, April, May and June. We’re talking about GLAT, BJC and BGCSE.
“Now my reasoning for that is that [based on] the calendar that the Department of Education sent out to teachers from last year, examinations should have begun from March 30th.
“So if we are in lockdown until April 30th and the exams were to run from March 30th to May 7th, then obviously you could not have the sitting of examinations in April, May and June.”
The Ministry of Education announced earlier this month that all national secondary school exams will be postponed “until such time as the government of The Bahamas deems it safe for students, teachers and support staff to return to physical buildings.”
Schools have been closed since March 15. It remains unclear when they will reopen.
Wilson said based on how other jurisdictions have dealt with the virus, it could take four months before things begin to return to some sense of normalcy in The Bahamas.
The Bahamas confirmed its first case on March 15.
“So we are only in our first month,” she noted.
“…This pandemic will compel them to change the examinations and it will compel them to cancel the remainder of the school year.”
As it relates to the graduating class of 2020, Wilson said if 12th graders take their national exams by November, they can have their results by December and start college by January 2021.
“For the 12th graders, I would focus on them first,” she said.
“So as soon as they can get in I would try to get them to complete the syllabus as best as possible. I would try to get them to complete their coursework.
“…Your focus has to be on the 12th graders get them ready and out for December.”
She said ninth graders can take BJCs in tenth grade.
“Repeating everybody may not be necessary, but there has to be an adjustment to the time table,” she said.
Wilson said the Ministry of Education may have to consider expanding the school year.