Not Wise To ‘Push On With School Openings’

December 31, 2021 | 16 Comments

[Updated] Citing the upturn in positive Covid-19 test result and stress on Bermuda’s testing facilities, the Bermuda Union of Teachers said “we do not believe that it is wise or safe to push on with school openings at this juncture.”

This follows after the Ministry announced last night that they received 13,772 test results – spanning seven days — and 406 were positive, so active cases have now increased to 522, with zero people in hospital.

“Efforts To Solve The Pre-Return To School Testing Problems”

A spokesperson said, “The Executive Committee of the Bermuda Union of Teachers wants to disclose our efforts to solve the pre-return to school testing problems that arose previously during this holiday season. We have worked closely with local laboratories to arrange a testing schedule that would eliminate encroachment upon our members’ duly negotiated holiday time.

“We were able to agree on a schedule with the medical bodies that would have seen our members attend testing sites in the West, Central, and East regions on the morning of January 4, with a guarantee that test results would be returned prior to our scheduled return to school buildings on January 5.

“Sudden Upturn In Positive Covid-19 Test Results”

“Unfortunately, the sudden upturn in positive Ciovid-19 test results has significantly strained Bermuda’s testing process and machinery. We have been advised that our local labs will not be able to process the required number of tests for schools to open on January 5, 2022 safely.

“The current increase in Omicron variant Covid-19 cases has put predictable stress on Bermuda’s testing facility. Plodding ahead with any wholesale testing schedule for school students and staff at this juncture could send Bermuda down a very dire path indeed.

“We Do Not Believe That It Is Wise Or Safe To Push On With School Openings At This Juncture”

“We do not believe that it is wise or safe to push on with school openings at this juncture. Furthermore, based on many consultations with medical professionals, we contend that it would be egregiously irresponsible for the Ministry of Education to move ahead with their current plan.

“Considering that our current case count is very close to what it was on the scheduled start date for this current school year [September 9, 2021], we feel it is prudent to consider a similar plan to what was implemented back then. While remote learning continues to evolve, it must be considered a contingency for dealing with this potentially deadly spike in Covid-19 cases.

“World Is Responding To This New Viral Strain With Great Caution”

“The entire world is responding to this new viral strain with great caution, and we do not believe that it would be sensible of us to turn a blind eye to this threat and allow our members to be sent back to a possibly very dangerous environment.

Locally, Acting Minister of Health, Wayne Furbert has recently said that, “While we currently have no hospitalisations, this current spread has the potential to overwhelm our hospital’s resources, as well as our testing teams and MDL, and we must guard against that.”

December 30 2021 Covid Calendar Day

“Untenable Risk For The Entire Country”

“This is a clear articulation of the same conditions we have described above. Omicron is here, and pushing through an additional 6000+ tests right now, in an absurd effort to stick to an already questionable schedule, would overwhelm our local testing teams and MDL, as the Minister suggests. This is an untenable risk for the entire country.

“We question why an immediate congress of the Education Emergency Measures Committee [EEMC] has not been called with all these developments in mind. The EEMC is a body of expert stakeholders that has been entirely neglected during the second half of 2021.

“Critical Input Of All Relevant Stakeholders”

During this state of emergency, we firmly believe that no decision concerning the safety and health of our school students and staff should be made without the critical input of all relevant stakeholders, which has always been the purpose of the EEMC. This pandemic is not over, and therefore the EEMC must function well if Education is also to function well.

“In closing, we encourage our members, as well as the wider community, to remain vigilant in these precarious times. Practice good hand hygiene, wear your mask, and maintain social distance as much as practicable.”

Update 8.14pm: A Government spokesperson said, “The Ministry of Education would like to advise the public that public schools will open and return to Phase 2 at the start of the 2022 Term. School staff return to work on January 4th and students return to school on January 5th, 2022.

The Acting Minister of Education, the Hon. Tinee Furbert JP MP stated, “We are seeing an increase in cases; therefore protocols for Phase 2 are in place for the return to school on the 4th and 5th January 2022. Staff and parents who have not booked appointments for pre-return tests are urged to do so as soon as possible as the testing schedule commences tomorrow, January 1st.

“We know that our students benefit more from in-person learning. Therefore, to ensure a safe learning environment our schools will open for in-person learning for Term 2 with staff and students providing negative pre-return tests before entering school buildings on January 4th and 5th, and with schools adhering strictly to the daily entry screenings and Department of Health protocols for Phase 2. Schools will also continue with weekly saliva screenings as another safety layer.

“As of this afternoon, MDL reported that 3168 appointments have been booked of which 485 are staff and 2,683 are students. These numbers do not include staff and students testing at private sites.

Minister Furbert stated, “The most critical factor is the availability of staff to be present and ready to resume in-class teaching, and for students to be prepared for in-class learning on 5th January 2022.”

“The Ministry of Education wishes to thank all staff and parents who have already booked their tests and urges all of Bermuda to continue to stay safe during this holiday period.

“To register for Covid testing:

Teachers: https://schoolstaff.resqwest.com/
Students: https://schools.resqwest.com/

“For information regarding Phase 2 link here

covid-19 divider 1

You can find more information on the links below from our dedicated website BermudaCovid.com, which is the most comprehensive resource and historic record available of Bermuda’s handling of the pandemic.

  • All Charts: Vaccine, testing & more here
  • Timelines: Dates of major developments here
  • Test results: Chart of testing stats here
  • Vaccine: Data covering vaccinations here
  • Dedicated website: BermudaCovid.com

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Comments (16)

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  1. Disappointed Parent says:

    Sick of hearing from the Union, t8mebto break them up. Our children continue to come last. Who will watch my kids when at home while I try to make money to put food on the table. When will the students be able to make up for time lost in school. Will the Union cancel February’s mid term camp to have in-person learning? Where are the PTA groups? When will get together and say enough is enough?

  2. Marine Life says:

    Real Funny, that the general population or Layman has to ‘tell Government Ministers not to do certain things like open the schools when you yourselves saw this coming because of what the rest of the big world is going through and by the history of Covid 19. The peak will happen later in January or early in February. Don’t you get it? The variants uptick for round about two months at a time with a peak, then they decline after that peak. These variants have a time stamp naturally built into them. Until a new one comes out and does the same with it’s time stamp. They rise , then they fall like the waves of the ocean, and the continuous stronger then weaker pulses of weather systems. That is how nature works.
    Some day you will learn, but you will still waste the Publics’ money with your policies. Now, go and fix our deplorable roads, get our bus service running properly without continuous and NUMEROUS cancellations, go back to Two day trash collection to get rid of our horrible Islandwide mouse/RAT Infestation, and take proper care of your citizens. You leave a lot of us in the lurch or gutter. Thanks, Hope Lost.

  3. Comfortably numb says:

    And people still wonder why there is such a huge gap in achievement between private and public schools? Public school teachers, not unlike most government workers, will look for any way to avoid working. Private school teachers, conversely, will roll up their sleeves and do everything possible to keep the school doors open.

  4. DuckieDoodle says:

    Good reasoning Marine Life! The latter portion of your reply should HIT the government below the belt. We don’t need snow removal or sanding trucks for ice, no need to rake leaves………get the picture? Look at the public works $$$$$$ you save!!, Let’s clean up the TRASH! Get these roads repaired and KEEP our busses running!!! Put some care into this deteriorating Island. Get to work Government!!!

  5. Rig says:

    And therein lies the difference between the public and private school sectors.

    Aided and abetted by the BUT, the public schools seem to be the kid skipping school because they can’t be bothered, where is the passion in teaching?

    The private sector meanwhile gets on with it. No wonder public schools are closing and Warwick, BHS etc are bursting with kids.

    This is on you PLP. Fix it.

  6. Pooled Dooley says:

    There you have it folks, according to public sentiment Gov’t gets no points, they are bordering on horrific failure, on most counts and are showing themselves to be unqualified to run the schools, the busses , the economy, race relations, employment, proper trash collection and vermin control, road works, hospitality initiatives, Covid and Covid travel/ Quarantine procedures over these last to years. ( way too much debacle) and someone can finish off the long list of failures. Children are primary, on the list. Private schools put many government schools to shame.
    It seems that anything Gov’t touches goes south because of it’s personal management of resources. Many inside stories of money floating off the top over numerous projects over the years and one has to wonder why Small Bermuda is in such debt? Government is also a poor employer. Bermuda is a proper example of HOW NOT TO GOVERN! Very Happy for all my thousands of fellow Bermudians who moved and found a better and more successful life elsewhere. Our numbers are down below 62,000. The world is a much bigger place, with wonderful options. Bermuda has LOST its way……

  7. Marine Life says:

    By the way, how much does Gov’t pay its teachers? It is strictly a very important career. Let’s (hope) it compensates, the children are being shaped. Future you always build upon, not tear down. Hopefully the pay is not bringing down the moral like on other government jobs. Perhaps we can’t blame our teachers, as government raises have fallen way behind the pay scale to match our burgeoning cost of living. Again, another failure of you know who…..

  8. Disappointed parent2 says:

    Consult all relevant stakeholders? Yes please. Can we please consult the students and their parents?
    I know there are good dedicated teachers out there for whom I am thankful- but the BUT as a whole is clearly just committed to minimal work. Last week they said we have to consider covid the norm and cant set a precedent for working (I.e getting tested) outside of work hours. Now they are saying we should not resume school normally because of covid? It seems they will find any excuse to make less work for themselves. The rest of us are just testing regularly and doing our jobs and our kids need an education.

    • Cleaver says:

      I could not agree more, STOP with the excuses please…. There is testing that can be done personally as well as through the Government. What about the parents who have to work to put food on table and pay bills etc.. any thought on that BUT or are you going to help out financially in this area. Children need the stimulus of a class environment in order to learn and if we just pull up our big boy socks it can be done.

  9. Question says:

    We should have the best teachers in the world coming here to teach our children. Instead we have this lot.

  10. Joe Bloggs says:

    “Citing the upturn in positive Covid-19 test result and stress on Bermuda’s testing facilities, the Bermuda Union of Teachers said “we do not believe that it is wise or safe to push on with school openings at this juncture.””

    I seem to recall that the Bermuda Union of Teachers has called on members to ”not attend the January 1, 2022 testing site” because they are not “obligated to perform any work-related duties before Jan 4″.

    See https://bernews.com/2021/12/testing-bermuda-teachers/

  11. Red Pill says:

    Delay for what? Schools should be open all this time. Herd immunity. Another classic example of not knowing what the heck they are doing. SMH!

  12. Honestly says:

    This is the Union’s view not the government. Why are people so vulnerable? Let me say… Private schools have a choice in who they accept. Public takes all students no matter of their strengths or learning abilities! Get s life!

    • Joe Bloggs says:

      “This is the Union’s view not the government”

      How can you tell the difference?

  13. watching says:

    ridiculous from the BUT.
    but unsurprising.

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