‘Safety First, Education Always’ – Back to School on Monday; Use of Virtual Platform Responsive to Public Health Situation

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From: Bahamas Information ServicesAugust 25, 2021

Beginning Monday, August 30, Government operated schools throughout the nation will begin the new school year 2021-2022 using the virtual learning format. The Hon. Jeffrey Lloyd, Minister of Education, made the announcement in a Back-To-School address to the nation Monday, August 23.

“Throughout his pandemic, we have had extensive and sustained consultations with health authorities as to the best and safest mode of learning and teaching. In recent weeks, the Ministry and Department have been in almost daily discussions with the health officials as to the best approach for the commencement of the 2021/22 academic year. They have been our guide and have given us clear directives,” said Minister Lloyd.

“In this time of COVID-19, the way we deliver education has had to change, because it is directly linked to the prevailing public health situation in our nation. The Ministry’s operating theme is: ‘Safety First, Education Always,’ especially now. In all our decisions the bottom-line consideration is the health and safety of our students, administrators, principals, teachers, staff, guests and the public who visit our premises. On this, there can and never will be a compromise.”

Mr. Lloyd explained that the aim of the Ministry of Education (MOE) is to get students back in school – face to face but not at the risk of students, teachers, administrators, parents and staff.

“We are not insensitive to parents and guardians child care needs. We ask you to please consider carefully the reason for our decision, and to bear with us during this brief period in your children’s lives. This decision will be under weekly review, with the hope that in a few short weeks, the public health situation will improve, and students can return to some form of face to face.

“As we did during the last academic year, the return to face-to-face instruction will depend on local conditions on each island. Schools on small-island communities may return to face-to-face learning sooner than other islands, if the health officials deems it safe to do so,” said Minister Lloyd. He encouraged private schools to adopt a similar position by using a virtual platform which the Ministry believes is the best and safest approach for education at this time.

Independent schools who wish to offer face-to-face instructional activities are required to receive written approval from the MOE. Minister Lloyd underscored that the MOE will continue to monitor closely the state of the evolving public health challenge, to determine when it is safe for students to return to campuses. “Our mission remains to provide all persons in The Bahamas with a quality education. This is only possible if we maintain a standard of safety first and education always.”

He assured that all schools have adequate signage installed on campus, and have been outfitted with an adequate supply of sanitation and cleaning equipment to maintain a healthy and safe learning environment. He used the opportunity to thank teachers, administrators and support staff who “continue to put this country’s future generation first and foremost.”

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