Few schools open as scheduled, ministry says
Just a handful of public schools will open their classrooms today, the Ministry of Education confirmed last night.
A spokeswoman said there would be a “staggered opening of schools for term two” – with no middle or senior schools opening as parents and pupils awaited coronavirus test results.
She added an “overwhelming majority of staff” took part in testing to return to work today.
Tinnée Furbert, the acting education minister, said staff at Molecular Diagnostics Laboratory had worked “tirelessly” on test results.
She said the decision on opening schools had been based on information received at 4pm.
Along with well as middle and senior schools, Dame Marjorie Bean and Success Academy cannot take pupils tomorrow because of staffing levels.
MDL has reported that all clear results from teachers and staff testing last Sunday had been sent out.
The spokeswoman said all teachers and staff who got clear results by today would have to report to work tomorrow.
She added: “Once the ministry has received additional data for staffing levels they will be able to communicate the additional classes and schools that will be open.”
Preschools opening: Lyceum, St Paul’s, Southampton and Prospect Preschool.
Remaining preschools, other than Lagoon Park and St David’s, will take class groups of students starting today.
Parents will be advised of classes by e-mail.
Seven primary schools will open for specific classes, with parents to be e-mailed.
They are: Northlands, five classes; St George’s Preparatory, five classes; Gilbert Institute, two classes; West End, four classes; Purvis, eight classes; Somerset, five classes, and West Pembroke, seven classes.
Other primary schools will open as they reach appropriate staff levels.
Ms Furbert said: “While these outcomes are not what we would have liked, those who can be in school will be in school.
“We ask for understanding, cohesiveness and patience as we navigate through reopening of schools as this is a fluid process.”
Schools will be operating under Phase 2 regulations.
The announcement came after parents said they feared that a failure to get test results out in time could scupper plans to reopen schools as planned.
People took to social media with stories on how the system for e-mailing coronavirus test results was working too slowly.
The news came after what some travellers said were scenes of “chaos and confusion” at the airport on New Year’s Day when passengers’ journey plans were hit by widespread delays in receiving results.
With a question mark hanging over a return to classrooms, Nicholle Paiva posted on Maj’s List: “So I thought school testing results would be prioritised for return to school but 2 out of the 3 have not came back as yet. And 2 were tested on the same day at the same time at the same venue. What happens if the results are not back in time for school opening?”
The Royal Gazette has been contacted by people who said they knew of teachers who had still not received their results, and of teachers who had said there would not be enough staff given the all clear in time for their school to open.
Denise Bowens-Tucker posted on Maj’s List: “Here it is Tuesday I have not received any test results for my kids, they both got theirs done on Sunday.”
Ministers earlier insisted in-school learning would go ahead on January 5 despite safety concerns from the Bermuda Union of Teachers.
The BUT warned that it was not safe for pupils and their members to return to school because of the latest surge in Covid-19 cases.
The Ministry of Education said teachers would return on January 4 with pupils following suit the next day in a return to Phase 2 at the start of the 2022 term.