Video: Press Conference On School Readiness

August 30, 2017

[Updated] Public Works Minister Lt/Col David Burch and Education Minister Diallo Rabain held a press conference this afternoon [Aug 30] to provide an overview of school maintenance and readiness in advance of students returning to school on September 11th.

The Ministers said that all schools are expected to be ready with the exception of Dellwood, where students will be temporarily relocated while the work is completed.

Minister Rabain said, “As the public is aware, Dellwood Middle School was closed on June 12 resulting in students having to complete their 2016/17 school year at the Bermuda College.

“There have been ongoing concerns at Dellwood regarding air quality, leaks and mould. After an assessment and testing by the Department of Health, problem areas were identified and contractors to do remediation works were sought.

“It is unfortunate that the previous Government did not allocate the funding needed to address these issues when they were identified in June. As a result, It was not, however, until July 25, some 6 weeks after the school was closed, that at this new Government’s first Cabinet meeting, the funding was approved to get Dellwood Middle School safe for the upcoming school year.

“Despite the hard work and long hours by both the Ministry of Works staff and the 3 contractors on site, we have determined that Dellwood Middle School will not be ready in time for the September 11 opening.

“While the preferred option will be to have students back at their school, Dellwood Middle School students will be housed initially in alternative locations in the City of Hamilton.

“By September 6th, we will know the final details of this this temporary relocation and the general public will be notified accordingly.

“Outside of Dellwood Middle School, all schools are expected to be ready to be opened on schedule on September 11th.

“This new Government has inherited a severely neglected school infrastructure. To put this in perspective, 27 of our 29 Primary and Middle schools are older than our existing Airport; an airport that is currently being replaced. It appears that year after year of patchwork has left us with buildings in need of serious attention.

“Despite these challenges, we have worked tirelessly from July 19th, 2017 to ensure that what we had to work with was made safe for our students.”

The press conference has just concluded and we will have additional information later on, and in the meantime the 13-minute live video replay is below.

Update 2.15pm: Minister of Education and Workforce Development Diallo Rabain’s remarks:

Good Afternoon,

I am here today to provide an update on the readiness of our school buildings for 2017/18 academic year which officially begins for all students on Monday, September 11th.

During the summer months, Government workers in both the Ministries of Education and Workforce Development and Public Works undertake a scheduled maintenance and building upgrades to improve our school facilities in preparation for the start of school each September.

The purpose of the annual program is to carry out repairs that will ensure a safe and healthy environment for our students, principals, teaching, and administrative staff.

We are in the final stages of cleaning and repair work at the majority of public schools and I am pleased to report that they are on schedule to be fully operational and ready for handover to our teachers on September 1st.

Significant repair and maintenance projects undertaken to improve our school buildings included:

  • The renovation of student restrooms at Lyceum and Warwick Preschools and T.N. Totem Middle School
  • The tent fumigation of Victor Scott Primary school and West Pembroke’s infant block
  • Roof replacement at Elliot Primary
  • The installation of a natural playground at St. David’s Preschool
  • Installation of perimeter fencing at Hope Academy
  • Hallway and classroom floor resurfacing projects at Somerset Primary, Southampton Preschool, Prospect Preschool, Harrington Sound Primary and St. David’s Primary
  • Additional maintenance at various school sites including: pest control assessments, fire alarm inspection testing and installation, water fountain maintenance and cleaning and power washing at various school sites.

As the public is aware, Dellwood Middle School was closed on June 12 resulting in students having to complete their 2016/17 school year at the Bermuda College.

There have been ongoing concerns at Dellwood regarding air quality, leaks and mould. After an assessment and testing by the Department of Health, problem areas were identified and contractors to do remediation works were sought.

It is unfortunate that the previous Government did not allocate the funding needed to address these issues when they were identified in June. As a result, It was not, however, until July 25, some 6 weeks after the school was closed, that at this new Government’s first Cabinet meeting, the funding was approved to get Dellwood Middle School safe for the upcoming school year.

Despite the hard work and long hours by both the Ministry of Works staff and the 3 contractors on site, we have determined that Dellwood Middle School will not be ready in time for the September 11 opening.

I want to assure the public that every effort is being made by my team to ensure that our students have minimal disruption to their learning. The Commissioner of Education, the Department of Education’s Facilities Manager, a representative from the Department of Health, the Minister of Public Works and I have meet with the Dellwood team that included the Principal, PTSA Exeuctive, Staff and BUT Executive Members to determine the best and most suitable alternative arrangements to start the school year.

While the preferred option will be to have students back at their school, Dellwood Middle School students will be housed initially in alternative locations in the City of Hamilton. Despite this challenge, the students of Dellwood Middle School will received the care and attention, by the Dellwood Middle School Staff and the Department of Education that is necessary to ensure their quality of learning will remain at a high level. By September 6th, we will know the final details of this this temporary relocation and the general public will be notified accordingly.

Outside of Dellwood Middle School, all schools are expected to be ready to be opened on schedule on September 11th.

This new Government has inherited a severely neglected school infrastructure. To put this in perspective, 27 of our 29 Primary and Middle schools are older than our existing Airport; an airport that is currently being replaced. It appears that year after year of patchwork has left us with buildings in need of serious attention.

Despite these challenges, we have worked tirelessly from July 19th, 2017 to ensure that what we had to work with was made safe for our students. Once the school year is under way, the Ministries of Education and Workforce Development and Public Works will examine how school maintenance is managed and, going forward, will be implementing a year round maintenance plan.

Additionally, as promised in our election platform, structural, mechanical, electrical and health and safety building inspection reports of all schools will be initiated to assist us to have a complete picture of the condition of all of our schools. This new government will keep its promise to ensure that public education is a priority.

This year, we are grateful for the additional assistance that we have received from the members of the public to help get our schools ready. Ms. Angela Young and her team of Work Rally Volunteers have done a great public service and their efforts are to be applauded. On behalf of the Ministry of Education and Workforce Development and the Government of Bermuda, I thank them for their commitment, drive and willingness to share the load in helping to get our schools ready for the school year.

Let me close by thanking the teams at the Ministries of Education and Workforce Development and Public Works who are tasked with maintaining, repairing and cleaning our schools in the face the awesome challenges they have had to face year after year. Many of our existing school facilities need to be replaced, but we are grateful for the teams who work all year to keep them safe for students, staff and their surrounding communities.

Thank you

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Comments (30)

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  1. Street talk says:

    oba/UBP you suck BIG TIME. Had since June to fix Dellwood but no……….you only helped a sail boat race and forgot the children of Bermuda. Bunch of clowns from a circus I WILL NEVER VOTE FOR YOU AGAIN. Craig distance yourself from these fools fast and take the BDA party with you. The UBP is finished.

    Thank the stars we changed parties July 18.

    • nerema says:

      Er, most of the school holidays have been under PLP governance. If they didn’t spend so much time reversing work permit denials, going on trips to Barbados, and making hate groups into charities, they might have got more done.

      • OMG says:

        Shut that big mouth X MP. The UBPOBA you ran for and voted for did nothing for the people. As a Minister you failed to see how silly the party was to change names overnight hoping the people wouldn’t see the hogwash. plp 24 to ubp/oba 12 seats and you still drink the red kool-aid.

        • nerema says:

          You’re too busy making sure your cronies are taken care of to look after the schools. Your ‘big idea’ for schools is to get volunteers in. pathetic.
          We know the plan. “broaden the economy” with deepsea mining, offshore gambling, and IT incubators.
          You think the electorate is stupid, and to some extent you’re absolutely right.

        • really says:

          So the remedial work needed doing, everyone was aware of it says Rabain …..

          Obviously the contractors had been sought and probably much of the work had commenced. Surely it doesn’t all have to be paid for upfront.

          I think this is a cheap political play to shift blame as nearly 2 months to complete it under the PLP…yet not completed.

          Rabain then goes on about the airport and the age of some of the schools……PLP did not have schools plans lined up , but they had a hugely expensive airport plan ready to go. So Rabain is yet again spinning.

          Ask yourself, how dumb are you to believe the politicians spin.

      • OMG says:

        And before you say anything more lets be clear the UBPOBA had was the party in charge and you’re so called UBP Premier didn’t even show up to vote.

        “Premier Michael Dunkley’s decision to abstain from voting on the Same-Sex Marriage Bill” The OBA was the weakest party and he was the worst Premier ever. That’s a fat fact!!!!!!!!!!

        LMAO

      • Interesting says:

        In June, Dellwood Middle School students relocated to Bermuda College amid concern among teachers of widespread mould.

        Mr Rabain added: “It is unfortunate that the previous Government did not allocate the funding needed to address these issues when they were identified in June.

        “As a result, it was not, however, until July 25, some six weeks after the school was closed, that at this new Government’s first Cabinet meeting, the funding was approved to get Dellwood Middle School safe for the upcoming school year.

        • Zevon says:

          I hope there are no unbudgeted expenses. Burt told us last week those are bad.

    • David says:

      The last OBA budget still had us spending more money per public school student than annual tuition at the most expensive high school on the island. Can’t tell if you’re being disingenuous or are simply delusional.

      Good news coming out of the BTA while public transportation and the public school are still in rough shape (in more ways than one). Can you tell me what the difference is between the BTA and our public schools and transportation systems? Maybe one day we Bermudians will *genuinely* care as much about our kids’ education and transport as we do about tourism, and do what needs to be done.

      Are you sure you’re happy the OBA are out of power? Now who are you going to blame for all your woes?

      • OMG says:

        First of all the OBA is the UBP. Changing the name overnight, hoping and wishing black Bermudians would support the UBP party a fools dream

        • David says:

          OMG showing us all why our public education system is in such desperate need of an overhaul :)

          But yes, the political party that has to rely on the under-educated Bermudian to win elections is going to fix the education system. Who’s drinking the kool aid? :)

          • mixitup says:

            I, my three sisters, my brother and three cousins, of whom all have bachelors degrees, voted for the PLP. So take your non-factual racist undertones somewhere where like-minds will listen.

            Your OBA were given their chance and they FAILED! The ‘Under-educated’ 20,000 people (who voted PLP) you talk about have moved on and will support this new Gov’t, all while you sit there sucking your sour grapes, longing to “Make Bermuda Great Again.”

            • David says:

              No racist undertones here. Unless you find my stating facts (which I did in my above two comments) racist. There are some very highly educated people who vote for the PLP. However, if only the highly educated voted, the PLP would not win- certainly not by the margin they did. Not racist. True.

              Also, I am a proud Bermudian who calls out government incompetence when I see it rather than be some political party’s surrogate. In fact, I hope (and think) the OBA will never get back in. Does that mean I think things will get remarkably better under the PLP? Not really. Certainly not if we’re using history as a guide. Does that mean I think there will be a lot less disingenuous bellyaching, protest marches, etc. during the next 5 years? Yes. And for that, I am grateful.

          • Thank you ubpOBA for scoring a F u grade says:

            What’s real funny is that the cronies in ubp OBA will never get elected again with people like you as a supporter LOLOLOL :)

    • sandgrownan says:

      You need to pint your anger at W&E and the MoE. Plenty of cash.

  2. WIFI? says:

    Where dat “wifi in all the schools”?

    • Toys says:

      Since when is it an absolute must to have wifi? Its a tool, but its not the determining factor of producing successful graduates.

  3. Juan de Bermudez says:

    Please be honest. The schools were in dire need of major works even before OBA took office back in 2012!!

    • mixitup says:

      So you are saying that not just in 3 weeks did the OBA not address the issues, but four years? Thank goodness you didn’t land on Bermuda.

      On another note: Koudos to them for building a whole new Island in a year though!

  4. puzzled says:

    And the contract goes too ……………………………………..
    Roll in your grave Freddy.

  5. sandgrownan says:

    “..“It is unfortunate that the previous Government did not allocate the funding needed to address these issues when they were identified in June…”

    So the BS starts…the last budget had us spending way more money per public school than even the most expensive private school. I would look for fault in the MoE and W&E. There was a lack of will to remediate, not a lack of cash.

    Shame on the PLP and civil servants playing politics with our school system. Shame on you.

    • drunken ursula says:

      shame on you… Cole Simons said repairs was in the works, along with money allocated for Dellwood, that sorry excuse for a minister, proved once again we couldn’t trust that UBP/OBA ! On former Education minister Cole Simons the worst and most backward minister this island has ever seen no wonder he sat on the back bench for a long time…useless !

  6. Bermewjan says:

    School readiness, lol! Sounds like military intelligence.

  7. cpm says:

    Would parents have shown up to clean schools ready for the new term if the previous government was in power, of course not
    They are doing it to protect the plp from criticism but they won’t get any anyway from the sheepie followers
    The plp made election promises regarding our schools and education so why could’nt they organise Dellwood to be ready and open because we all know that now they are in power civil servants no longer “drag their feet on Government jobs”

    • mixitup says:

      They did, and were told no! By the then Gov’t, try again..

    • New Bermudian says:

      That’s unfair. The work rallies are NOT partisan, and if you were involved with them you’d know that. This is more about a group of people, mostly women, who want to be the change they want to see, to paraphrase Gandhi. It’s got little or nothing to do with ‘protecting the PLP’ and EVERYTHING to do with doing right by our kids. It was hatched before the PLP got re-elected, and has its roots in a group of motivated people wanting to start to shift our mindset and our collective culture. Shame on you for thinking otherwise. Helping our schools doesn’t have to be partisan- nor should it be. Stop with the divisive talk. It helps absolutely nothing and promotes nothing at all useful or constructive.

    • Zevon says:

      The work rallies are nothing new. At my son’s school the parents did a lot of work over a year ago. The only difference is that no song dance was made about it.

  8. cpm says:

    Of course not a word or a march from Mike Charles and The People’s Campaign about Dellwood

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