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TN Tatem to stay shut in September

Pupils at TN Tatem Middle School will not return to the building in September, the education minister announced last night.

Diallo Rabain told parents at a meeting held at Bermuda College that work at the school to tackle mould and other issues would take at least ten months to complete.

He added that the required work would cost $3 million.

Mr Rabain told parents: “It's unfortunate we find ourselves where we are. Once we received a letter from the PTSA on behalf of the teachers, it invoked a certain line of incidents that had to happen. One was that the health and safety officer had to do an inspection.

“Based on the report that he came back with — and at that point we looked back at previous reports that have been done all the way back up to 2012 — it was determined that repairs that should have happened in previous years did not happen.”

The minister added: “We could have done exactly what has been done all of this time — go in, clean, a fresh coat of paint, replace a few things — but the issues that we are facing now would have reappeared a few years from now.”

Mr Rabain said that because of the time needed to make the repairs, the decision was made to close the school for the upcoming school year.

He told attendees that he could not say what will be done with the school in the long run because the Government intends to reform the wider school system.

Mr Rabain said: “That involves what the curriculum needs to look like, what teaching is going to look like moving forward in Bermuda, the phasing out of middle schools in Bermuda and going back to a two-tiered system.

“All of this is being looked at, so TN Tatem is now in that conversation that we are having and as we move forward, we will be in a better position to make a decision as to how to utilise TN Tatem within the new system.

“At this point, I can tell you TN Tatem will not be open this academic school year. I can't tell you what's going to happen beyond this academic school year coming up because it is part of the restructuring programme we are looking at for our entire school system.”

He promised that any decision about the future of the school will be made after consultation with stakeholders, including parents and teachers.

Parents were told that as soon as next week they would receive forms so they can indicate which schools they would prefer their students to attend in the upcoming year.

The placement of the students will be based on the responses from the parents, along with capacity at the requested schools.

The students will be fully integrated into the schools for the year.

TN Tatem teachers will also be moved to other schools based on where the students have been placed.

Asked about school uniforms, Mr Rabain said: “We are looking at how we can fund uniforms, or provide some sort of funding for all incoming M1, current M1 and M2 students.”

Some parents questioned the effect of the move — along with the challenged introduction of standards-based grading — would have on the students and their academic records.

After the meeting, one parent said: “I think the disruption is a factor. It takes them a little while to adjust to a new school.

“The thing they forget is that kids are kids. They have friends, and social life is a big part of going to school.”

The parent was not surprised by the news, but said: “It should have been done the first time around, how many years ago.”

Another parent said: “I'm glad that next year we won't have to worry about them being uprooted in the middle of the semester again. Every time that happens, it sets them back a few steps.

“It's not a great situation, but I think everyone knows that something had to be done eventually.”

The school, which is in Warwick, was shut last month after a walkout by teachers and pupils over health fears.

The closure order was sparked by a letter from the Parent Teacher Student Association to education officials that highlighted “grave concerns about the health of the learning environment”.

The school was previously closed in late 2016 and students were temporarily moved to Clearwater Middle School because of concerns about mould.

TN Tatem reopened in February 2017, but a 2018 report found water leaks, windows that would not open, inappropriate storage, an accumulation of waste, inadequate housekeeping and faulty mechanical systems at the school.

File photograph by Owain Johnston-Barnes

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Published May 30, 2019 at 9:00 am (Updated May 30, 2019 at 9:40 am)

TN Tatem to stay shut in September

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