School remote learning could be extended
School students could be learning remotely until May, the Education Minister said yesterday.
Diallo Rabain, the education minister, said the closing of public and private schools to in-house learning from Monday was done on the advice of the Education Emergency Measures Committee.
Mr Rabain said the end date would be reviewed when the committee convened next, in the week of April 19. However it could last until May 7.
He called on employers to be understanding of staff whose children would have to study from home.
“It’s going to take all of us working together to get through this pandemic,” he said.
Overall, Mr Rabain said actual infections of students of staff, versus those ordered to quarantine because of potential contacts, represented “a small percentage” of the island’s coronavirus cases.
Meanwhile a shipment of 1,600 Chromebook laptops from the Hasso Plattner Foundation, ordered last August, was hoped to reach Bermuda in two weeks’ time.
Mr Rabain said: “We are disappointed that due to the global crisis resulting from the pandemic, we have yet to take receipt of that order.”
According to a local vendor, the shipment of computers is being prepared now from Florida.
Mr Rabain said there was “light at the end of the tunnel” for the laptops, which will be configured with training given to staff and students.
The donations will “start at primary and work their way up”, he added.
Mr Rabain said it was important for parents to keep their contacts updated in the PowerSchool system, to inform schools of any students left short of electronic devices. He added there were “green shoots” of potential further donations from the international business sector.
Despite the remote working, Cambridge Checkpoint and iGCSE exams are to go ahead in April and May to June, respectively.
Mr Rabain said P6 and M3 Checkpoint assessments and the iGCSE examinations would follow strict safety measures, including a guidance handbook from the Cambridge International Exams.
He said the data from Checkpoint assessments was “critical” and “even more important this year” because students now in P6 and M3 had missed assessments at the end of the 2020 academic year due to remote learning.
Mr Rabain added that saliva testing for the coronavirus would be in place for students and staff ahead of the exams.
Senior school heads had drawn up a contingency plan for the IGCSEs with the Department of Health.
He conceded that in-school studying for the exams was preferable.
But he said senior public school students had already “habituated” to remote learning from last year.
Public school classes start remotely at 1pm on Monday, allowing staff time to collect learning material from buildings.
From Tuesday, public schools will follow the remote learning guidelines and schedules in place last December.
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School buildings will remain closed to all students during remote learning.
But parents will be told when children are clear to enter buildings to collect books and other materials.