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School break extended

Public schools will be reopened only when health officials give the go-ahead, the education ministry has said.

A government spokeswoman added that clearance would have to be given by the health ministry.

The spokeswoman said: “Please be assured that the safety and health of students, staff, families and our broader community is our number one priority.”

She was speaking after Diallo Rabain, the Minister of Education, suggested on Thursday that schools could reopen in less than three weeks' time.

Mr Rabain said that teachers, principals and school staff would be “working remotely and planning for the reopening of schools” over the 14-day lockdown, which took effect on Saturday.

He added that the work was “critical”.

Mr Rabain explained: “When schools reopen, the schools will not jump back into business as usual.

“Instead, schools will commence with a recovery period before they transition to the regular school schedule and routines.”

He added: “During the recovery period, which will be implemented the first week when schools reopen or the week of April 20, schools will have revised schedules.

“Students and staff will be able to wear casual clothing and there will be a focus on activities to help staff and students to gradually transition to the regular school schedule and routines.”

Mr Rabain said activities would include preparation of pupils for the restart of lessons, stress management, an assessment of the mental health of pupils and staff, safety audits and communication with parents.

He added that the transition period took into account the effect of the pandemic on pupils and staff and its main goal was to “restore the normalcy that prevailed in the school prior to the crisis”.

Mr Rabain said there was “no evidence” that pupils or teachers had been infected with Covid-19 “or that there has been any contamination in Bermuda schools”.

He added that “out of any abundance of caution” deep-clean and disinfection rules had been developed to make sure schools were safe.

Mr Rabain said the four-part process involved deep-cleaning classrooms and other rooms, disinfection with bleach-based products, as well as “specific cleaning” of often-touched areas, including door handles, handrails and water fountains.

He added there would be inspections afterwards with a checklist and sign-off procedure.

Mr Rabain said deep cleaning had started on March 23 and that only three schools had still to be treated.

He added the remote school strategy would be suspended on April 13, but that pupils would be given a “menu of activities” to complete each day.

Mr Rabain said: “We recognise that all of Bermuda is required to shelter in place and that continuing with the remote-learning strategy may present additional challenges and stress for families and households.

“Principals and school staff will carry out individual planning to ensure they are prepared for the implementation of the recovery programme once schools reopen.”

Mr Rabain added that the Easter holiday had been extended to include next week.

He said schoolchildren should read and get physical exercise in their homes and yards every day.

David Burt, the Premier, announced on March 18 that schools would close the next day until April 6.

Education minister Diallo Rabain

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Published April 06, 2020 at 9:00 am (Updated April 06, 2020 at 9:01 am)

School break extended

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