NASSAU, Bahamas – The Bahamas government says schools will reopen next month with no face-to-face classes due to the resurgence in the number of coronavirus (COVID019) cases.
In a statement, the Ministry of Education said that decision was made out of an abundance of caution and came after “heavy consultation” with the Ministry of Health.
“While the preferred mode of instruction delivery continues to be face-to-face, the ministry remains guided by the mantra of ‘safety first, education always,’” the statement said.
“As many of our students and educators will be returning from summer travel, the Ministry of Education considers that online instruction will best assist us in reducing the chances of a spike in COVID19 cases throughout the country.
“We think that this action is necessary given the state of our nation’s healthcare system. Therefore, out of an abundance of caution, the decision is made to re-open schools via an online format. This decision will be reviewed in a few weeks.”,
It said that private institutions to adopt the virtual learning model and that any school wishing to open with face-to-face learning will first have to seek permission from the Ministry of Education.
“At this time, the Ministry of Education strongly urges all private schools to adopt a similar position by engaging their students using a virtual platform. Nevertheless, those independent schools that wish to proceed with some face-to-face instructional activities must seek approval from the Ministry of Education.”
The statement said it will continue to closely monitor the changing situation to determine when it is safe for students to return to campuses.
In-person classes ended in March 2020 due to the pandemic but resumed after the summer break last October in a phased approach.
Latest figures here show that 330 people have died and 16, 962 others have tested positive for the virus that was first detected here in March last year.
The President of the Bahamas Union of Teachers, (BUT), Belinda Wilson, said that while she accepts the approach to having schools re-opened virtually, the announcement should have been made earlier.
“I’m pleased that they have finally listened and adhered to the advice from the medical professionals and prior recommendations from the Bahamas Union of Teachers,” Wilson told the Tribune newspaper.
“At this time, it is our view that virtual learning is the most safe model of teaching especially based on the increased number of COVID-19 positive cases in the country and more specifically amongst school aged children,” she said, even as she said there were concerns that ought to be addressed before schools reopen next week, particularly as it relates to the ministry’s virtual learning platform.