Space concerns with ‘new normal’, says teacher

A teacher claims that children could be forced to sit in classes in the hallways of at least one primary school if social- distancing is to be maintained in September.

The teacher, who did not want to be named, said that logistical challenges would compromise the order for students to remain at least six feet apart to help prevent the spread of Covid 19.

The teacher told The Royal Gazette: “What needs to be addressed are the logistical challenges when a class is housed in a small room with furnishings, including workstations, taking up most of the space.

“Under the current arrangement, social-distancing could mean that classes would have to extend into the hallway and occupy a large portion of that area.

“This will require the relocation of the fixed fixtures, repurposed desks which should include installing see through partitions for each child, and individual workstations for the class teacher and each assistant to reduce the spread of the virus.”

Teachers have received guidance from the Department of Education on what can and can not be kept in classrooms.

The guidance states that: “All items, materials and supplies, furnishings and equipment must be restricted to absolute minimum bare essentials and functional optimum quantities.”

Critical teaching materials are allowed, but “only to the extent deemed absolutely necessary”.

It added: “The number of students, any special needs of students, must also be considered to ensure quality teaching, basic and enhanced learning in the most ideal teach and learning environment.”

The teacher added that alteration works would be required by the Government to repurpose, extend or open up classrooms, including eliminating the foot traffic to some areas.

“It is imperative for us to ensure social-distancing to facilitate the reduction in the spread of the virus student to student, student to teacher, teacher to student and, of course, student and teacher to the public, including other family members.

“We all want to be disease-free and will in no way endanger our lives for the sake of disobeying distancing rules.”

Teaching staff received a Bermuda Public School System schedule overview calling on them to declutter and reorganise classrooms for social-distancing over two days — June 22 and June 23. The teacher said it was not sufficient time.

“We were told that we could only come in the building during the hours of 7.30am to 4.30pm to prepare our rooms — it will take longer.”

The Royal Gazette did not receive responses to questions from the Ministry of Education by press time.

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Published Jun 18, 2020 at 8:00 am (Updated Jun 18, 2020 at 7:42 am)

Space concerns with ‘new normal’, says teacher

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