With thousands of students set to go back to school within a matter of weeks, Public Works Minister Lieutenant-Colonel David Burch said he was confident that the work in progress at public schools across the island will be completed before the classes begin.

Speaking at a joint news conference held at Heron Bay School on Wednesday, with the Minister of Education and Workforce Development, Diallo Rabain, Minister Burch also issued assurances that Bermuda’s public schools will be safe for staff and students.

“One or two schools have issues that we expect will be addressed by the time school is open,” said Colonel Burch.

“If you went to Harrington Sound today, you would find there are some areas that are still being remediated, but by the time school opens they will be ready to be occupied.

“Work teams have completed and signed off on 781 of the 1,337 identified tasks and workers are on track to complete 30 of 39 capital projects, with the remaining nine to be addressed in future school breaks.

The Minister also noted that $3 million was allocated to do the work and that the amount spent will end up being “very close to that”.

“The largest amount to date was $302,000 for the new gymnasium roof at Dellwood Middle School,” he said.

“Salaries, materials, supplies and small contracts are estimated to be an additional $1.5 million, some of which will be capitalised depending on the works.

“Schools are a priority for this Government, and funds will be moved from other projects to cover any shortfall.”

Now that the work is in the “final stages”, Education Minister Diallo Rabain said restrooms were renovated at Francis Patton Primary School and Port Royal Primary School.

The buildings that house Dalton E Tucker Primary School and the assembly hall at Purvis Primary School were also fumigated. Perimeter fencing was also installed at several school properties.

Wi-Fi and surge suppressors have been installed at all of the island’s primary schools. Minister Rabain also stated that the Department of Education is in the process of creating a user policy for the wi-fi, which will be given out to teachers at the start of the new school year.

Hallway and classroom floors were also resurfaced at Gilbert Institute, Purvis Primary School,  East End Primary and Harrington Sound Primary.

“We are in the final stage of repair work and cleaning at the majority of our public schools and I am pleased to report that we are on schedule to be fully operational and ready for our students on September 10th,” he added.

“Significant repair and maintenance projects were undertaken to improve our school buildings.”These included:

  • The installation of Wi-Fi and surge suppressors at all Primary Schools;
  • The renovation of  male restrooms at Francis Patton Primary;
  • The renovation of the male and female restrooms at Port Royal Primary;
  • The renovation of the cottage at East End Primary;
  • The fumigation of Dalton E. Tucker Primary
  • The fumigation of  the assembly hall block at Purvis Primary;
  • Installation of perimeter fencing at several schools;
  • Hallway and classroom floor resurfacing projects at East End Primary, Harrington Sound Primary, Gilbert Institute and Purvis Primary;
  • Additional maintenance at various school sites which included:
    • Pest control assessments and fumigation;
    • Fire alarm inspection, testing and installation;
    • Water fountain maintenance; and
    • Chlorination of water tanks at all schools.

Minister Burch noted that his Ministry works “in collaboration with the Ministry of Education facilities management team”, to plan out the summer maintenance schedule early in the year so that work can begin “immediately at the start of the summer recess”.

All schools have were inspected by the team and a list of tasks agreed and assigned to various work crews.

“Any issues identified by the Health and Safety Coordinator were included with those tasks,” said Colonel Burch.

“There is a limited nine week window to complete works and all of the Public Lands and Building’s teams have been assigned to schools. It has been all hands on deck! In practical terms what this means is – all 7 work units and 102 tradesmen of the Building Section are working in schools,” he added.

Capital works were “budgeted at $3 million: and the largest amount to date was $302,000 for the new gymnasium roof at Dellwood Middle School.

“Salaries, materials and supplies and small contracts are estimated to be an additional $1.5 million, some of which will be capitalized depending on the works. As always – schools are a priority for this government and funds will be moved from other projects to cover any shortfall, he said.

“Our goal is to complete as much work as we can prior to the 4th September 2018 when the teachers return to school. 30 of the capital projects will be completed prior to school starting and 9 are being deferred to other school breaks.

“To date, we have 781 tasks completed and signed off in our database. Of the 556 outstanding, many are either completed and not yet signed off or are nearing completion and will soon be signed off.

“We expect that when schools restart on the 10th September the completion numbers will be significantly higher. Any outstanding tasks will be tackled during the school year.”