BEN & BUEI Host Summer Learning Program

August 17, 2020

The Bermuda Education Network [BEN] and Bermuda Underwater Exploration Institute [BUEI] have completed a six-week collaboration aimed at providing additional educational opportunities to public primary school students this summer.

A spokesperson said, “The initiative is an extension piece to BEN’s Horizons program which consists of field trips connected to the P5 science and social studies curriculum.

“The two groups have collaborated extensively in the past on expeditions and summer camp initiatives to target learning gaps which occur due to students being out of school for an extended period between June and September – the so-called “summer slide”.

“With recent pandemic-related school closures, the potential harm of a “Covid-slide” is now being considered by educators around the world and BEN and BUEI decided to team up and create a summer learning program that could accelerate catch up for certain students.

“46 students were provided with two weeks of science camp at BUEI as well as intensive literacy support in the afternoon provided by BEN’s team.”

BUEI’s CEO, Tara Curtis commented that as the full impact of the pandemic continues to be assessed by education organisations, it’s more important than ever to consider ways to collaborate in order to support students, parents, and teachers.

“Both organisations felt strongly that it would be best to offer a physical camp and allow children to resume more normal social interaction. We started planning with BEN back in March including a contingency plan for an online programme delivery if it became impossible to provide a physical camp. Thankfully, that was not necessary, and we were able to find a way to share costs and provide these educational opportunities free of charge to students in need,” she said.

BEN’s Executive Director, Becky Ausenda said: “I think BUEI has done an exemplary job implementing Covid-19 guidance from the Bermuda Government and CDC and we are particularly grateful to Head of Education Julie Steele for her tireless dedication to making these opportunities available and for working with our team to reassure families that it would be safe to send their children to camp.”

She added that BUEI’s camp implemented social distancing measures including limited numbers of students and an innovative approach whereby each classroom received a blend of Zoom lessons and in-person teaching from one camp counsellor.

Adults were all required to wear face masks or shields and children were free to interact in the classroom without masks but were encouraged to wash and sanitize hands frequently.

“BUEI’s proximity to the Arboretum and The Botanical Gardens made it an ideal location for field trips during the day and the physical premises are very spacious making it possible to socially distance. It’s also convenient for parents to pick up and drop off without entering the building,” a spokesperson explained.

BEN’s Experiential Learning Director, Zonique James said: “BUEI has been an outstanding partner this summer. We love the way their science curriculum uses a range of experiential techniques incorporating craft and outdoor exploration to reinforce science topics.

“We appreciated their professionalism concerning the social distancing regulations and flexibility in allowing our team to do reading tutoring during the after-camp. I think the environment created by BUEI was an ideal way for students to readjust to a physical classroom setting and the end result has been a great learning experience for kids that was highly appreciated by parents.”

She also thanked BEN’s team of reading tutors, Stacey DeShields, Tracy Houghton, Susan Masters, Diamond Outerbridge, Takisha Simmons and Nancy Swart who have provided tutoring for the BEN students every afternoon.

“We anticipated that it would be very challenging for parents to sustain reading support for reluctant readers this summer and we are so grateful to BUEI and our reading team for helping us to support these students. Even in the space of two weeks we’ve seen tremendous growth with all students regaining confidence with reading and some of our students with learning differences making remarkable progress,” she added.

After the success of this collaboration BEN and BUEI are already planning the 2021 partnership.

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