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Ministry of Education Sticks with the Re-opening of Schools

The Ministry of Education is proceeding with its plan to activate hybrid learning come Monday, October 4. The plan, for now, will only occur for the schools that have met the required criteria. According to a release from the ministry, officials are giving clearance to schools based on the facility’s geographic location of the school and the level of contagion in that area; the vaccination status of both teachers and students; the physical readiness of the campus to accommodate students with the required protocols; and the community context of the school and the need for a return to the classroom. According to the CEO in the Ministry of Education, Diana Maheia, forty-two schools have already applied to reopen and are currently being reviewed.

Diana Maheia, CEO, Ministry of Education: “I think the first thing that is important for me to explain is that October 4th was the date that was recommended by the Ministry of Health and Wellness as a safe date for return based on the rollout of the Pfizer vaccine for the students 12 to 17 years old and so based on their recommendation if you’ll remember we decided that we would postpone the return to face-to-face instruction in August. We decided that we would go with the October 4th deadline or date that was. Now our decision to proceed really has been based on a few things we have heard from both ends of the spectrum the feeling about returning to the classroom. We have heard an obviously we share the concerns because of the current positively rate of COVID  in the country. We also continue to field a lot of concern for people who are worried for students who continue to be out of the classroom and now its more than learning loss, now it’s also looking at the very serious psychosocial effects on the students because they haven’t ben able to be physically with their teachers, with their classmates, with their friends . So our decision really has been an effort to bear in mind that that safety is paramount flexibility is key. What we are saying is that those schools who are ready can apply for the green light. This is not all schools that are going to open automatically come Monday only the schools who are ready are able to send in the application.”

The ministry conceded in its release this morning that no plan is perfect and no one plan can suit everyone. It goes on to state, quote, “the ministry fully anticipates that the status of some schools will change as the situation evolves in the coming months. However, the process will begin, as best as possible, to manage the new reality of hybrid education. This has to be done as Belizean children need to return to the classroom, even if it is only for a few days per week or a few hours per day.” The release concluded by encouraging all education stakeholders to follow the Covid-19 guidelines and that every person over the age of 12 is vaccinated.