Classes will be back in session inside the traditional classrooms on Monday, August 10. It is a tentative date as all things are now dependent of the Covid-19 situation and how it develops. Minister Patrick Faber made the announcement this morning via a press conference to discuss the State of Education in Belize. The August 10 date is set for pre, primary and secondary schools as the start of the new academic year. It is an early start date but according to the minister it is being done so teachers and students can close the gaps created by COVID-19 in March.
Hon. Patrick Faber, Minister of Education, Youth and Sports: “June 15th to June 30th we are hoping that all secondary school teachers and counselors can return to school and this is in preparing for the CSEC examinations also to close out the current school year and to start pre-planning for the start of the new school year. We will also be requiring secondary school students who are going to sit the CSEC, locally know and more appreciated CXC exams here in Belize we are going to ask those students to return June 15th to 30th as well. June 22nd to July 31st TVET instructors and trainees will be asked to return and this is in order that they be able to complete practical components of their trade programs and also to prepare for the start of the new training cycle. July 13th to August 4th we are asking that secondary school and junior college students who are sitting the exams be ready and of course the purpose for their return is to sit the actual CSEC/CXC , CAPE exams. August 3rd to the 7th we will be requiring preschool, primary and secondary school, this is all levels, teachers to return to the classrooms – sorry I said all levels but I think not included there is tertiary- and the reason for their return on August 3rd would be to prepare for the start of the new school year and also to prepare for diagnostic assessments and intervention planning. August 10th is a key date to watch, this is when we believe we are going to be poised to open schools at the preschool, primary school and secondary levels so that all teachers and students can start the new school year so that there can be the administering of the diagnostic assessments and so that we can start implementing learning recovery programs. August 24th the TVET instructors and trainees will be required to return and they will then begin their new training cycle.”
In addition to the tentative dates announced for several events, Minister Faber spoke of several training sessions and preparatory works that will be taking place in the coming weeks at the various schools.
Hon. Patrick Faber, Minister of Education: “We’ll be publishing guidelines and related training materials for the operation of schools during the COVID-19 pandemic. We will be collecting data and analyzing results from school readiness surveys. We will be training education officers, school leaders and teachers.We’ll be preparing school facilities to address identified infrastructure needs, cleaning and disinfecting facilities, repairing and installing fixtures and procuring supplies. We will be training school bus operators, school meal providers and our school wardens. We’ll be making adjustments to schedules and services where necessary and we will be engaging and educating parents and the wider community on issues related to school reopening. We will also be determining the use of masks and face coverings and that will be done based on the national guidelines at the time of school reopening. If we find that that situation is not possible in a particular school that is when we will then make alternative plans and those alternative plans that we’ve discussed range from possibly having a shift system and that shift system could mean we have children come to school Monday, Wednesday, Friday and some on Tuesday, and Thursday or it could mean children come one week and then another set of children come another week and then we subsidize this with the kind of home based learning that we’ve become accustomed to which there’s some critics who criticize that it’s not effective but to me it’s better that we do that and some face to face learning as opposed to just leaving our children unattended running wild at home without any kind of learning opportunity. So it all depends on what we find after we conduct these surveys.”
As it relates to tertiary institutions, Minister Faber noted that they should draft their plans to reopen and submit them to reopen to the Chief Education Officer.