All public schools in The Bahamas will begin the 2021/2022 academic year with a virtual learning format, the Ministry of Education announced on Saturday. The ministry also encouraged private schools to “adopt a similar position”, and noted that independent schools that wish to proceed with some face-to-face instruction must seek approval to do so from the Ministry of Education.
“As the 2021/2022 academic year approaches, the Ministry of Education would like to inform the public that all government schools will open in a virtual learning format on August 30, 2021,” the ministry said in a statement.
“While the preferred mode of instructional delivery continues to be face-to-face, the ministry remains guided by the mantra of ‘safety first, education always’.
“As many of our students and educators will be returning from summer travel, the Ministry of Education is of the opinion that online instruction will assist us in reducing the chances of experiencing a spike in COVID-19 cases throughout the country.
“We think that this action is necessary given the state of our nation’s healthcare system.
“Therefore, out of an abundance of caution, the decision has been made to reopen schools via the online format.”
The Ministry of Education noted that the decision will be reviewed “in a few weeks”.
“In the interim, parents are encouraged to secure all of the necessary materials which will enable our students to benefit from the virtual learning environment,” it said.
“At a minimum, each student should have a device along with a dedicated space that is conducive to online learning.”
It added, “We will continue to monitor closely the state of this ever-evolving public health challenge to determine when it is safe for our students to return to our campuses.”
The announcement came as The Bahamas continues to grapple with a devastating surge in COVID cases, hospitalizations and deaths.
Health officials have warned that both major hospitals on New Providence, Princess Margaret Hospital (PMH) and Doctors Hospital, are overwhelmed with COVID patients.
As of Saturday, there had already been more cases recorded so far in August (2,466) than were recorded for any other month this year.
Twenty COVID-related deaths have been confirmed in the past week.