After over two years of being forced into remote learning, schools across the country will be reopening for a full return to face-to-face instruction. But COVID-19 has undoubtedly changed the way schools function, particularly in its efforts to maintain cleanliness. Concern is rife about the spread of infections as students congregate in classrooms. That’s why the Belize City Council is helping several schools to respond to those challenges. Vejea Alvarez reports.
Vejea Alvarez, Love FM News: All primary schools in Belize City are now better equipped for Monday’s opening of the new academic school year thanks to a donation from the Belize City Council. As all schools across the country prepare for a full return to in class learning, the threat of COVID-19 remains alive. In an effort to bolster the protection of Belize City students against the virus, the Council and its Child Advisory Board handed over an array of cleaning and sanitization supplies to the city’s 31 primary schools. Deputy Mayor Allan Pollard says that in addition the schools will receive 13 backpacks with school supplies to distribute to students.
Allan Pollard, Deputy Mayor, Belize City Council: “We know we had the whole hybrid learning. A lot of people were in school virtually and now being in the transition now to completely open and everyone in classroom, we found it necessary to not only give back to the kids but to the principles and the teachers to have, you know, a safe environment for the kids. I know a lot of parents are, they have it in the back of their minds and they’re worried about their children’s safety while they are at school being thet COVID isn’t gone although the height of the pandemic has lowered but we want to ensure that kids are back safe, that they practise proper hygiene, and we want to make sure that one of the excuses by the schools can’t be that they don’t have proper equipment or they don’t have proper tools to make sure that these kids are sanitising or making sure that they’re washing their hands, etc.”
Vejea Alvarez, Love FM News: Dian Garnett, the principal of Grace Primary School, says that the donation comes at no better time because the school recently relocated and it was lacking the adequate funds to prepare for Monday’s return to the classroom.
Dian Garnett, Principal, Grace Primary School: “It’s a welcome reprieve. As you all know, Grace Primary has just embarked on putting three new buildings at our Faber’s Road campus since our school at Amara, some of the buildings are no longer usable and then we had to do a whole lot of repairs so most of our funds have been exhausted in getting school back together and ready for Monday so this is really a gift that we truly appreciate and we would like to express our real gratitude to the City Council.”
Vejea Alvarez, Love FM News: Garnett added that her school has been preparing for several months now and had to make several changes as the trying times of the COVID-19 pandemic has changed the traditional classroom setting.
Dian Garnett, Principal, Grace Primary School: “First we were thinking we would go back under COVID restrictions and so when we looked at the classrooms, the furniture would not have fit and so we had to go back to the drawing board and go back to what we had. A lot of things for our school had to be redone. We had not been in some of the rooms for almost two years. We had a lot of fixtures that needed to be fixed. We need windows repairs, floors repairs, our stairs. So we had a lot plus we had a new set of buildings at our Faber’s Road campus so we got three new buildings. Right now we are sourcing chairs. So if anybody wants to donate for us we need somewhat like 90 chairs for Stand IV classrooms. We are still in preparation mode. It’s a lot.”
Vejea Alvarez, Love FM News: Pollard further explained that the donation of cleaning supplies and backpacks was sparked by the need to get students back into the classroom safely.
Allan Pollard, Deputy Mayor, Belize City Council: “There are 31 schools who have benefited. Like Mr. Fritz said earlier, I think there are two schools who have opted to give their donations to more needy schools. I think the dollar value is somewhere around $40,000 for the entire donation.”
Vejea Alvarez, Love FM News: Vejea Alvarez, Love News.