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Private school warns Covid-19 rules have brought education system close to the edge

Plea: Linda Parker, head of Bermuda High School (File photograph)

The head of a private school and its chairwoman last night appealed for a relaxation of Covid-19 restrictions for children and warned that the education system was close to breaking point.

Linda Parker, the head teacher at BHS, and Celia Powell, the chairwoman of the board of governors, said that schools in the private and the public sector were suffering from Covid-19 battle fatigue and could not sustain tough restrictions for much longer.

The two added that the island was “lagging far behind the rest of the world with regards to the restrictions placed on schools and our youngest citizens”.

Ms Parker told parents of children at the school that she and Ms Powell had written to Kim Wilson, the health minister, and Diallo Rabain, the education minister, to outline their concerns.

The letter said safety regulations imposed in the past two years had resulted in an “enormous increase” in the workload of teachers and administrators and had affected children’s ability to learn.

It added: “We are witnessing the negative social and emotional impact on our students, the gaps in learning which are presenting themselves, and the ongoing stress on our staff and BHS families.

The letter warned: “We can only imagine that these outcomes are replicated in the public school system and we are confident that all educations in Bermuda feel that we are simply not in a position to sustain these strict measures for much longer.”

Ms Parker and Ms Powell thanked the ministers for their work over the pandemic and insisted it had been appreciated.

But they added: “The chorus is getting very loud for the need for change.

“We believe that it is now time to move away from these strict regulations – our families are demanding it and we can no longer claim that we are simply ‘following the rules’.”

The letter highlighted that BHS and other private school head teachers had made a joint submission to revise the pandemic phases in the education system.

It said that Mr Rabain had hinted that changes to restrictions would be announced soon.

The letter added: “It is our sincere hope that our collective suggestions have been taken into consideration and will be reflected in this announcement.”

It emphasised: “We are not suggesting a complete return to normal as we appreciate that we are still in a pandemic.

“However, we are not in the same position that we were in 2020, or even 2021, and the approach should reflect this reality.”

The letter told the ministers: “Please keep our serious concerns for Bermuda’s students, teaching staff and families in mind as you update the regulations.”

The health and education ministers have been asked for comment.

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Published March 25, 2022 at 7:43 am (Updated March 25, 2022 at 7:43 am)

Private school warns Covid-19 rules have brought education system close to the edge

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