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Private schools bid to stay open

Still open: Somersfield Academy principal Carlos Symonds (File photograph by Blaire Simmons)

Private schools have vowed to remain open for as long as possible, despite the recent surge in Covid-19 cases on the island.

All public schools were shut down by Government yesterday.

But, following consultation between private school head teachers, it was agreed independent establishments will try to remain open.

Carlos Symonds, the head of Somersfield Academy in Devonshire, said in a letter to parents: “Further to the Minister of Education’s announcement that public schools will be moving to remote learning, the heads of the private schools have consulted and we have all decided to try to remain open for as long as we can.”

Mr Symonds said that, unlike public schools, the private sector had not been hit with high absentee rates among staff and teachers.

“Fortunately, this has not been the case within our school,” he said.

“As such, all private schools have decided to continue to tighten and reinforce the safety protocols, such that we can continue to deliver in-person instruction to our students.

“I understand that the rise in the level of positive cases in the community is cause for alarm and the closure of the public schools has added a fresh level of anxiety.

“Please be assured that the health and safety of our students and staff is paramount, as we chart our course through these turbulent times.”

Saltus Grammar School is believed to be the one independent school affected by the pandemic.

The school’s senior department closed on Monday after a student tested positive for the virus. Last night senior students were ordered to quarantine on the advice of the department of health.

Middle school students at Saltus were also told to stay home and continue their studies via virtual learning from today.

School principal Deryn Lavell said: The Department of Health advised us that our SGY 1 and SGY 2 students, teachers and their households must quarantine under the guidance of the Health Department.

“Our middle school has now been impacted as we have so many Secondary teachers who are out of school due to the senior school having to be at home.”

The school will remain open for all primary pupils to attend classes on campus.

Among public schools, Berkeley Institute closed on Monday.

CedarBridge Academy and Dellwood and Clearwater middle schools closed last week. Pupils from all three schools are currently under 14-day quarantine. The Bermuda College also closed its campus after a student tested positive for Covid-19.

Diallo Rabain, the education minister, ordered all remaining public schools to close on Tuesday night, saying that high absenteeism had caused the shutdown.

He said: “Due to issues that are outside of our schools’ control such as Covid-19, related quarantining, staff illnesses and other reasons, our schools have experienced very high levels of staff absences.

“Nearly every school has been affected and while teachers have selflessly filled for absent colleagues, this is not a sustainable model.”

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Published December 10, 2020 at 9:31 am (Updated December 10, 2020 at 9:30 am)

Private schools bid to stay open

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