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BNTU President Comments on Formation of Education Task Force

Indications are that face to face classes may not resume until the new academic year.  Love News understands that the date is dependent on the Ministry of Health and the number of Covid-19 infections in the country. 

Indications are that face to face classes may not resume until the new academic year.  Love News understands that the date is dependent on the Ministry of Health and the number of Covid-19 infections in the country.  Recently a task force to help the Ministry of Education to prepare for the reopening was formed.  According to the President of the Belize National Teachers Union (BNTU) Elena Smith, the task force is merely to get the schools ready for reopening when the government gives the go-ahead.

Elena Smith, President, Belize National Teachers Union : “We do have a rep from the Ministry of Health on the task force and so we make these plans then the rep there is guiding us in terms of giving us an indication of what would be or when would be a safe time. So from their perspective they are looking of course at number of cases and how this is going and then they would have a cut off level to say that when we get to this level then it would be deemed safe to reopen. And so we are planning then with that deadline if you will, with that target in place to say okay whenever we reach this target level then we know that we should be able to open. So preparations would have to be in place between now and when that time comes. As I said we don’t know when exactly that is going to be but we have to ensure that we do some of the planning from now and have those things in place – for example let’s say it is going to be third term which would normally be after Easter just as an example if it’s deemed by the Ministry of Health that that would be safe then by then we should have everything in place to handle that. Keeping in mind that the task force is in place from February 1 to July so that is our time frame to have all that we need to have in place. So that might be an indication that maybe it might not be before July as I said I can’t really give a date right now it just depends on how prepared we are and what is the level of cases that we would have for us to then reopen.”

Smith went on to say that the task force’s mandate is for the period, February to July.  During that period consultations with stakeholders will take place with an aim to ensure that schools have the necessary protocols and systems in place to accommodate the Covid-19 regulations.  President Smith went further to explain to Love News that while a date is yet to be given, indications are that the authorities may be looking at a reopening in the new academic year.

Elena Smith, President, Belize National Teachers Union: “We are not working towards a specific date. What the task force really and truly is doing is looking at all of the areas that we need to ensure are in place to allow for a safe reopening and that is the responsibility that we have. So the press release that was sent out indicated that there didn’t seem to be the possibility of a reopening for this school year and so it would seem that that would be in September so that is what came from the ministry. Again they have indicated that the Ministry would have to be guided by the persons at the Ministry of Health and when it is that they feel its safe for our students and teachers to return to the classroom. So to make it short we don’t have a deadline and we don’t have a set date that we are working towards we are just ensuring that everything is in place, that we do the necessary checks, the necessary consultations whether via phone calls, whether via surveys to get to hear from our parents, our students, our teachers to look at how the cases are going, to look at the readiness of the schools in terms of being able to keep students and teachers and parents safe as well as what reopening would look like and so when that time comes whether it’s August, whether it’s September, whether it’s June whenever that is we have to ensure that everything is in place to keep our students, our parents and our teachers safe while being at school.”

Parliamentarians will be meeting tomorrow in Belmopan for the year’s second House of Representatives meeting.  Minister of Infrastructure Development Julius Espat has indicated this week that the government will be tabling a motion to reconstitute the Public Accounts Committee which would strip the government of control over the committee.  Love News understands that on the House Orders the government will present four Bills for a second reading.  We will have coverage of tomorrow’s meeting in our newscast.