As of Friday (Oct 22), 32 of Bermuda’s 36 public schools locations had returned to in-class learning, including all Government pre-schools and three of our Middle Schools, after successfully having met the required clearance.

Speaking at a news conference on Friday (Oct 22), Education Minister Diallo Rabain said: “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,” he added.

Now that students are back out of class for the mid-term break next week, students and staff will be required to undergo mandatory PCR COVID tests before classes resume on Monday, November 1.

According to the MInister, a system is being set up to allow students and staff to sign up or time slots, which will be available on Friday, October 29, Saturday, October 30 and, on a limited basis, on Sunday, October 31.

Testing sites will be set up at Penno’s Wharf in St George’s, Bull’s Head Car Park, St Paul’s Centennial Church and Perot Post Office in Pembroke, the Bermuda College in Paget and in Dockyard.

“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,” said Mr Rabain.

“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,” he added.

“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.”

The Minister concluded: “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.”