This morning I wish to update the public regarding students returning to school. We are pleased to announce that as of today, all pre-schools, primary and 3 of 4 Middle Schools have returned to in-class learning, successfully having met the required clearance.
We have seen Dellwood, Whitney, and Sandys Secondary Middle Schools, as well as Dame Marjorie Bean Hope Academy, return to in-class learning this week, and Clearwater Middle School, CedarBridge and Berkeley will return to in-class learning after the break to complete the transition from remote education back to in-class learning for all public schools.
This has been a challenging time for everyone…principals, teachers, parents, and students. But we extend our appreciation to each and every one of you for coming together to ensure that our young people can learn in a clean and safe environment.
I want to be clear…this is not the time to stop practising washing your hands, wearing your mask, or to start engaging in social behaviours that will cause us to be right back where we started. We want parents and students to continue to be careful during the upcoming mid-term break. We want all of our students to return to school after the mid-term break ready, healthy, and eager to learn.
The Ministry of Education will be undertaking mandatory testing of all students and staff before returning to school after the break. This will be imperative to ensure the safety of our school environment. A system is being set up to allow students and staff to sign up for time slots for testing on Friday, Oct 29th, Saturday, Oct 30th and on a limited basis on Sunday, Oct 31st. With the assistance of the Ministry of Health and MDL, we will be able to have testing done at Penno’s Wharf, Bullshead, Perot Post Office, Dockyard, St. Paul’s
Centennial Hall and Bermuda College.
Parents and staff will receive instructions on how to sign up and pick their days and times for testing. To be clear, as with the pre-entry testing we did to return to in-class learning, a negative PCR test will be required to return to our schools after the mid-term break.
The saliva screening process will begin after the mid-term break, and Lateral Flow testing is still being planned to be integrated as an addition to our screening processes.
The Ministry of Education is currently working with the Ministry of Health on the policies around the use of Lateral Flow testing. Discussions with private donors to assist with the supply of these tests are also well advanced.
We are also working with the Ministry of Health to revise the quarantine policies to reduce the number of children sent home when a positive case is detected. While we do not wish to send any child home, we must ensure that our children are protected in school and outside of school. We will continue to assess and refine our policies to best address the needs of our large volume of students islandwide, spread over 36 locations.
Again, we are pleased that 32 of our 36 locations have returned to in-class learning. Students are settling back into a routine and are ready to learn.
Bermuda, the Minister of Health has shared that Covid numbers are down. We implore each of you to continue to do your part to help stop the spread of the coronavirus. Continue to follow public health guidelines, wear a mask, practice good hand hygiene and maintain physical distance. Parents, I ask that you continue to work with your children to ensure they practice these guidelines as well.
Together, we can tackle this pandemic and keep our children as safe as possible and in school.
Before I go, I want to recognize the men and women at the Molecular Diagnostic Lab and their hard work and dedication to testing and providing us with the testing results to enable schools to return to in-class learning over the last two and half weeks. They have put in long hours and often are up to all hours in the night to get the results back promptly.
Additionally, I want to acknowledge the hard work and dedication of all of Bermuda’s teachers. But today, I want to highlight the newly announced Bermuda Education Network’s 2021 Outstanding Teacher of the Year, Mr. Dean Foggo.
A veteran in education, Mr. Foggo is a shining example of sincere passion and inspiration for Bermuda’s youth. We commend him, and on behalf of the Ministry of Education, I say thank you.
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