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Opposition slams late notice on school re-openings

Most schools remained shuttered after a last minute decision by Government (File photograph)

The way ministers handled a last minute decision to abandon plans for a full scale return to the classroom was last night attacked by the One Bermuda Alliance.

Susan Jackson, the shadow education minister, said parents and families had been suffered disruption because of the lack of notice.

Ms Jackson said: “Parents in particular are frustrated and who can blame them?

“One of the biggest criticisms they have cited repeatedly is that decisions are made last minute and almost two years into the pandemic it baffles me that last minute announcements still occur.

“Not every parent can work from home, so pivoting to delayed school opening with just a moment’s notice can cause major anxiety for families.”

Ms Jackson was speaking after only a handful of schools opened as planned at the beginning of term yesterday because of delays in sending out Covid-19 test results.

The Government did not announce that most schools would stay closed until after the end of the working day on Tuesday.

Ms Jackson said: “At this juncture, the Government should have better processes in place which will circumvent last minute announcements to parents.

“It is clear Government ministries were not coordinated or prepared for the increased testing demand or the notification process.”

A Government spokeswoman said on Tuesday 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.

Tinée Furbert, the acting education minister, said the decision to leave most schools shut was based on information available at 4pm on Tuesday.

The news came as education officials announced yesterday that, based on information available at 3pm, eight of the island’s preschools would be fully open today, along with nine primary schools and the Success Academy in Devonshire and Clearwater Middle School in St David’s.

But a spokeswoman said other schools would remain shut and others would open only for some classes.

Victor Scott Preschool, Heron Bay Primary, Prospect Primary, Paget Primary, Purvis Primary, Elliot Primary and Northlands Primary will be open for “specific classes”.

The Department of Education spokeswoman said parents would be notified when St David’s Preschool, Harrington Sound Primary, Port Royal Primary and St David’s Primary were ready to reopen.

She also said that Dellwood Middle School, Sandys Secondary Middle School, the Whitney Institute, the Dame Marjorie Bean Hope Academy and the island’s public senior schools had “not reached the staffing levels to allow in-person learning”.

The closed middle school and senior schools will offer remote learning from this morning.

Ms Furbert said yesterday: “We continue to make notable progress with school openings for Term 2.

“We thank MDL, our principals, teachers, staff and parents for your support, and we are very pleased that additional students can report to school for in-person learning."

Ministers had 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 its members to return to school because of the latest surge in Covid-19 cases.

The Ministry of Education had said teachers would return on Tuesday with the return on pupils the next day.

The schools that are open are operating under Phase 2 regulations.

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Published January 06, 2022 at 7:59 am (Updated January 06, 2022 at 11:24 am)

Opposition slams late notice on school re-openings

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