Dr. Minnis: No face-to-face schooling to be allowed in New Providence, Abaco

DR. HUBERT MINNIS Prime Minister of The Bahamas

Commending Grand Bahama and other Family Island residents for their adherence to the safety health measures recommended by the Ministry of Health regarding COVID-19, Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis on Wednesday announced that due to the continuous increase of positive cases on the islands of New Providence and Abaco, face to face educational instruction will cease on the two islands, until further notice.

During his communication in the House of Assembly on Wednesday, October 7, Dr. Minnis noted: “In order to reduce the movement of residents of New Providence, I also wish to announce that schools on New Providence and Abaco, may only proceed via virtual means. 

“For now, there will be no in-person schooling for students.” 

Meanwhile, students in GB and other Family Islands have returned to school, with face to face, virtual, and a hybrid learning format. 

Government schools opened for the 2020/2021 term on Monday, October 5, after being shut down abruptly back in March, this year, when the pandemic outbreak hit The Bahamas.

Subsequently, the Ministry of Education introduced virtual learning for students throughout the country. 

Regular classes were done online, however, national exams were face to face, with COVID-19 safety protocols in place.

As for Abaco and New Providence, the PM furthered that it has been identified that workplaces are a major source of community spread of the highly contagious and deadly COVID-19. For this reason, particularly on the islands of New Providence and Abaco, he encouraged residents to work from home as much as possible. 

“The workplace is a major source of community spread for COVID-19. All of those who can work from home, should do so. 

“We have many reports of individuals in offices not wearing masks and not maintaining physical distancing, proper sanitization and other health measures. Such practices are helping to spread the virus. I again make a strong appeal to those businesses that are not complying with health and safety guidelines to do so immediately. 

“It is the right thing to do legally and ethically," said the PM. 

“Let me again thank the many citizens, residents and businesses, who are consistently following the health and safety guidelines. To limit community spread in the public sector, to the greatest extent possible, public officers will be instructed by their permanent secretaries to work from home. Cabinet Ministers in quarantine will work from home during the quarantine period,” stated the nation’s leader. 

For the time being, both indoor and outdoor dining will be not permitted on the islands of New Providence and Abaco, however take-away, curb side and delivery services are permissible. 

“Where take away services are being provided, enforcement monitors will be vigilant to ensure that there is no congregating either indoors or outdoors by patrons. 

"All retail will be curbside only, with the exception of food stores. Patrons will not be allowed to enter other retail stores. Gas stations are also not permitted to offer in store services on the above-mentioned islands.

“As a part of our enforcement efforts, all fines for breaching health protocols, except for the mask violations, will be doubled. To encourage compliance with public health protection measures, there will be an amendment to the Emergency Powers Order that causes businesses to be closed for business on their second violation of the Orders. They will be closed for 14 days.  

“If a business or construction site has an infection rate of 10 percent of the full staff complement, the business or construction site will be closed, and all staff members will be quarantined for the prescribed incubation period of 14 days," he added. 

Noting that COVID-19 is the worst pandemic to impact the world in 100 years, the prime minister encouraged all Bahamians and residents throughout the Archipelago to do their part in winning the fight against the disease. 

“Right now, on New Providence and Abaco we need everyone to come together, in a spirit of unity, to fight the current spread of the virus. The virus likes division and disunity, both of which it exploits, doing harm to us all. 

“Whomever sows disunity and division, also helps to spread the virus. So, we need all residents of the country, political parties, businesses, churches, unions, the media and civic organizations to be of one accord. 

“The more we cooperate, the sooner we can lift the measures and resume more normal lives,” the PM said. 

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