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Education system changes delayed by Covid-19

Diallo Rabain, the Minister of Education (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

Covid-19 outbreaks have hit schools in the wake of a return to classes after the midterm break, the education minister has said.

Diallo Rabain said: “There have been some. They are private matters.

He added: “There have been a few – there have been very few in the public school system when we went back in a few weeks ago.

“But there have been a few during the course of school return.

“I don’t know those numbers off the top of my head.”

Mr Rabain admitted that pandemic “fatigue” had taken hold and that the disease had slowed the pace of planned changes to the education system.

He said: “The unrelenting effects of the pandemic have prevented us from moving as fast and as nimbly as some have desired, especially with education.

“I get it. And I understand the Covid fatigue some of us are experiencing.

“However, we cannot, and we will not. allow Covid to prevent us from moving forward.

“In the face of adversity, our school staff have been nothing less than phenomenal.”

Kim Wilson, the health minister, said that quarantine measures in schools were being monitored in connection with close and casual contact with Covid-19 cases.

She said: “The intention has always been first and foremost the safety of our children, as well as the staff and the teachers that support them.

“What we are doing, working with the Department of Education, is to look at basically a redefined role – definition of close contacts.

“Before any decisions are made as to who is required to quarantine, who is required to test, or who is a close contact, or a casual contact, we have to go in and establish the level of risk.”

Mr Rabain added that the move to specialised “signature schools” continued despite the pandemic.

He said: “We intend to have two signature schools in place in September 2022.

“In order to correctly develop a curriculum for a programme such as that it requires around 18 months of actual work to do.

“And, as we are talking about the education of our future generations, it is not something that we should fast track, or just check the box.

“It is something that has to be done correctly and has to be done in a manner that is befitting for our students.”

Mr Rabain added that an industrial dispute that involved public school custodians was due to a paperwork problems.

About 25 public custodians downed tools and gathered at the Bermuda Industrial Union headquarters on Monday after they complained they had not been paid overtime expected for work in August to get schools ready for the new term.

Mr Rabain said: “The half a day walkout we had … there was a mix-up in communication, that has been resolved. It was a paperwork issue.

“The custodians were always going to get that overtime, but there was a paperwork issue that prevented them from being paid last week.“

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Published November 10, 2021 at 7:44 am (Updated November 10, 2021 at 7:33 am)

Education system changes delayed by Covid-19

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