Coronavirus

Private schools get tough on Covid

  • New normal: a student from Saltus Grammar School wearing a face mask in class as part of the new Covid-19 regulations (Photograph supplied)
  • Different environment: Warwick Academy’s extra handwash basins are put to good use (Photograph supplied)

The island’s private schools have introduced strict Covid-19 safety precautions for the new school year.

Warwick Academy, Saltus Grammar School and the Bermuda High School outlined the steps they had taken to protect pupils and staff.

These include checking temperatures, the use of face masks, regular hand cleaning, social distancing and health questionnaires.

Warwick Academy, which reopened last Tuesday, said it had practice runs in June and its primary school ran its own opening with half-size classes.

Jane Vickers, director of development at the school, said: “It gave all the students and staff a glimpse into what September would look like and took away any nervousness. They knew what to expect.”

The school revamped timetables over the summer to accommodate three-feet distancing, prevent cross-contamination among year groups and reduce the number of pupils in classes.

The school also provided extra hand-washing basins and carried daily deep cleans and year groups will be kept in separate “bubbles”.

Ms Vickers said: “Classes now stay in their own rooms and teachers move on the bell instead of students, again to minimise the movement of people through the school.

“The one struggle we have is for the secondary school students to keep their masks on all day. It is very hot and some of the students, especially the middle school students, are struggling to have to sit all day in class with their masks on.

“This is a health department requirement so we don’t have a way to solve it at the moment. We do have the AC on and the windows are open a bit to allow ventilation.”

Dave Horan, Warwick Academy’s principal, said: “After weeks of planning, we are incredibly pleased with how the first week went.

“It is an atmosphere of continued improvement and we look to stay engaged with students, parents and staff as we navigate education in this new environment.”

Saltus Grammar School pupils returned last Thursday and new pupils got a dry run on the new rules the day before.

Saltus has also created a central resource for Covid-19 information.

Deryn Lavell, the head of school, said: “We want to thank the Bermuda Health Department, who have worked with us to ensure that we have made all the required adjustments for a safe learning environment.”

Ms Lavell said a practice run gave staff the chance to run through a staggered drop off routine and see how they could improve morning drop off procedures.

Bermuda High School welcomed students back last Wednesday.

Linda Parker, the head of school, said: “Managing the understandable anxieties of staff and parents — it has been an incredibly challenging time, and we have tried to provide as much communication to parents as possible and provide resources for our staff, and students, now that they have returned, to cope with their concerns.”

She added: “It has been a monumental task to get the school ready and it was truly a team effort.”

But she said: “It was a delight to have all of the students back on campus after so many months.”