Richards sets upbeat tone for new school year

  • Kalmar Richards, the education commissioner (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

It was still unclear last night if all public schools would be open today as pupils return to the classroom for the new academic year.

Questions about the readiness of schools were sent to a Ministry of Education spokeswoman last night.

She was asked whether all schools would be open, if work to tackle asbestos continued at any schools, and if all schools had been declared safe. There was no reply by press time.

The questions were sparked by work at three schools in the past few weeks.

The spokeswoman confirmed last Friday that work had been carried out at West End Primary School, Sandys, to remove floor tiles.

She said the work was a “precautionary measure” in case they contained asbestos.

The spokeswoman said at the time that the Ministry of Education was “confident” the school would be “safe to receive students and staff” today.

She added two other schools — Prospect Primary School, in Devonshire, and Clearwater Middle School, in St David’s — were “expected to open on Tuesday, as scheduled”.

Work to tackle asbestos at both schools took place over the summer break.

Kalmar Richards, the Commissioner of Education, said yesterday that she along with Diallo Rabain, the Minister of Education, and Department of Education staff would be at schools today to welcome pupils back.

Ms Richards said the visits were designed to “show our support to staff and students, and to remind us about the important work we do each day — work for our children”.

She added: “The staff and I are fully committed to student success and will continue to set out a path towards improving results and transforming Bermuda public schools.”

Ms Richards said that 4,820 pupils would return to public schools for the new term.

She added: “I expect our students to do well and I look forward to seeing an improvement in our results this year.”

Ms Richards said that teachers had taken part in professional development to prepare for the new academic year.

She added that new teachers had also completed orientation “to equip them with the knowledge they need to seamlessly transition into the Bermuda public school system”.

Ms Richards said: “I have no doubt that all of the staff will inspire and encourage our students towards their maximum potential this year.

“I am also encouraged by work being done within the DoE to ensure a successful year.”

She said that DoE staff had been involved in tasks that included the preparation and delivery of school supply orders, finalisation of staff assignments, and preparation for the increase of internet bandwidth at preschools, primary schools and middle schools.

Ms Richards added that staff had also prepared for the launch of the DoE’s complaints policy and upgrades to PowerSchool, the online school information site.