OBA accuses Government of poor planning over school return
The Opposition One Bermuda Alliance has accused Government of poor planning after it closed schools at short notice.
Public school pupils were due to go back to the classroom today for the start of the new academic year.
But on Tuesday Diallo Rabain, the minister of education, announced that lessons will be held remotely until at least Monday, because of a spike in Covid-19 cases.
It was the third change of plan in less than a week. Last Wednesday, September 1, Mr Rabain said that schools would open as normal with only minor safety measures such as mandatory mask-wearing, in place.
But the following day the minister announced that tougher safety measures were required because the island’s transmission status had moved from “sporadic cases” to “clusters of cases”.
Ben Smith, the shadow education minister, said that the last-minute change in policy had left parents scrambling.
Mr Smith said: “It was abysmal for the Department of Education to inform parents of this just 48 hours ago. It is simply unacceptable.
“Parents are now left feeling blindsided and scrambling to accommodate this last-minute decision.
“For many parents this will mean they will have to stay home from work. What impact will this have for their finances if they are unable to work from home?
“What provisions will be put into place for families who only have access to one device yet have more than one school-aged child at home?”
“Yes we are in unprecedented times, but this could have been handled better. The number of positive cases didn’t rise overnight. This decision could have been taken last week to give parents a little more time.”
Mr Smith appealed to parents to give consent for their children to be tested for Covid-19 at school to combat the virus. He added that teachers should also be tested “rigorously”.
“Where is the harm in allowing their students to participate if by doing so will protect their wellbeing, and ultimately help them to remain in school? Isn’t that what parents ultimately want – for life to return to normal, both in and outside of the classroom?
“Teachers should be tested rigorously as well. The testing for both students and teachers is needed so that we can prevent outbreaks as much as possible and return our children to the form of education they prefer.
“We do not know what the impact has been on the students over the last two years and what impact this will have on their future we need a solution to get our students back to school.”