Minister Hanna-Martin urges citizenry to help students to succeed; schools to reopen second week of January 2022 for hybrid instruction

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(BIS Photo/Ulric Woodside)

From: Bahamas Information Services

The Hon. Glenys Hanna-Martin, Minister of Education and Technical Vocation & Training has called on all Bahamians to assist in ensuring that students do not fail as a result of their absence from virtual school.

“Every effort must be made by every single one of us; public and private sector, parents and civil society, the church, every one of us to ensure that our children do not fall through the ‘cracks.’ We cannot and must not let that happen,” said Minister Hanna-Martin.

“Almost two years since the first COVID-19 case in The Bahamas, there have been tremendous disruptions in our children’s education and significant gaps in learning have occurred. The effect of this is serious and can be long lasting. We in The Bahamas will do all that we can to counter the negative effects of this experience on our children. We must therefore collaborate and cooperate for the greater good of our nation.

“We must all join hands, principals, administrators, teachers, support staff, parents and the wider community; and the ministries of Education, Health and Wellness, Social Development and Urban Renewal, to get our children not only back in the classroom, but back on track.”

She said the Ministry expects collaboration with these and other ministries to implement testing and remediation programs to achieve this objective. The Ministry hosted a press briefing Monday, November 8, 2021 in the conference room of the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture to advise on the state of repair of public schools and on the reopening date of schools for face-to- face learning. The meeting was attended by: The Hon. Zane Lightbourne, Minister of State; Lorraine Armbrister, Permanent Secretary; Sharon Poitier, Deputy Director; Donovan Turnquest, Deputy Permanent Secretary and Antoinette Storr, Assistant Director.

Minister Hanna-Martin announced that with the guidance of the Ministry of Health and Wellness, public schools throughout the Commonwealth will reopen during the second week of January 2022 for hybrid instruction which will gradually lead to in-classroom lessons. She presented an overview of the state of the physical plant, and plans underway for school repairs to facilitate reopening of schools.

Structural repairs are currently underway at a cost of approximately $20 million on primary, junior and senior high schools throughout the country. Minister Hanna-Martin said several schools that require major repairs will likely not be ready for in-person classes in the second week of January 2022. Alternate plans to ensure that face-to-face learning is provided for students whose schools will not be ready are being devised by the Ministry.

The following schools, now under repair, will likely not be ready for face-to-face instruction in January 2022:
L.W Young Junior High – Structural repairs, electrical, plumbing and building works
Yellow Elder Primary – Structural and building works
Sybil Strachan Primary – Roof installation, electrical and building works
Ridgeland Primary – Structural repairs, building repairs, electrical and window installation
Uriah Mcphee- Major roof repair, interior classroom repair, electrical installation
SC McPherson Junior High – Structural and building repairs
The Center for the Deaf – Building repairs, electrical upgrades (may be fit for occupancy in Jan 2022. Further discussion with stakeholders required.)
CW Sawyer – Structural repairs, electrical and building repairs, installation

Carlton Francis Primary – Structural works to an exterior staircase
Columbus Primary – Repairs to roof of administrators’ building (may be fit for occupancy; further discussion with stakeholders required).
Moores Island All Age School, SC Bootle Secondary School, James Pinder Primary – electrical building works and plumbing
Gambier Primary – New classrooms (may be ready for Jan 2022. Further discussion with stakeholders required).

“We have a very old physical plant that requires continuous maintenance throughout the year. For six weeks throughout the summer we try the more extensive work. When the pandemic hit we decided it was a good time to do major structural works; cracks in balconies, bathroom floors that needed to be redone and things that may be a health hazard for staff and students,” said Mr. Turnquest.

Moreover, Minister Hanna-Martin informed that the Ministry is engaged in a number of initiatives to lead to medium to long term qualitative improvement and higher student performance outcomes.

Students will be assessed and diagnosed based on 3 categories: children who require critical need of intervention, moderate need, and those who are currently at grade level and do not need intense intervention. According to Ms. Poitier, through the Ministry’s ‘responses to intervention’ initiative, district superintendents and principals are implementing plans for the return of students.

“There will be differences depending on the context of the schools,” said Ms. Poitier. “They are working with their teachers and principals to implement plans.” Retired teachers have also volunteered their services to assist students.