In 28 days schools will be reopening their doors for students to come back in the classroom for face to face learning. We asked the Director of Health services if the schools will be prepared to open by that date. The director says that MOH has been working closely with MOE as it relates to schools reopening.
Dr. Marvin Manzanero, Director of Health Services: “We met on Friday going into Friday afternoon. They came to us with a document that to us at health looks pretty solid, it’s pretty clear of what would happen given the different stages that we would have of an epidemic in Belize. It follows the same traffic code that we had developed and we had socialized with everybody in March in terms of the traffic lights that we would use. I think it’s doable. I know people are concerned but again if you go back to the way that plan is structured and the way we’re supposed to do things I think it’s something that can be done. I think the parents, the community, needs to go and educate themselves in terms of the plan. I mean Ministry of Education has to socialize the plan and I understand that they are starting that later on this week so parents are able to look at it and see what kind of role and stake they have to do in the plan. The other thing I keep highlighting is I know lots of people saying “Don’t open the schools. You know children are safe.” but right now it’s supposed to be summer vacation and I see children all over the place or parents going with their children all over the place in public settings, in public gatherings, mass events that is a higher risk than telling me that you’re going to go into a controlled environment in a school. So balance that, if in point of fact we are going to say that then children should really be locked up it’s not a question of closing the schools if that is the reasoning we’re going to be having then children should not be going anywhere basically you’re going to keep them locked up.”
According to Dr. Manzanero there would need to be community transmission in two or more communities in Belize for schools to be closed countrywide. Love News spoke with Education Minister, Patrick Faber, who explained that several schools have approached the ministry for an earlier reopening.
Hon. Patrick Faber, Minister of Education, Youth and Sports: “It’s a decision that we’ve contemplated and in fact even changing the date was contemplated by the Cabinet and so this is a decision that we’ve made collectively and of course we have to make such decisions under the guidance of the health officials of the country. We believe firmly that this date ought to continue to be the date and I understand fully well and I make it clear to our teachers and to our parents and everybody else that this may not be a perfect thing. In fact all of this is new to everybody there is no government in the world who can say that they are absolutely able to deal with all of this because it is new for us certainly in Belize it is really the case. So we don’t know necessarily what will work and what will not work but that is all the more reason why we ought to get a start. Our children have been out of school for too long and I’m sure that nobody will dispute that and nobody will dispute even that health ought to be our primary consideration and I make the point again that should we open on the 10th and there is some kind of community spread of COVID then just like we did on March 20 we will put a break in the whole thing again and we will put as the priority then the health of our students and teachers and we will close the schools again if we have to but that is another reason why we must open because we don’t know what will come later on and so we must make hay while the sun shines. Some private schools have sought permission to open they’re opening today in some instances so some people are saying it’s too long and we need to put into effect practices of what we’ve planned and the quicker we get to do that the better it will be. Now if there are glitches fine we expect glitches but let’s get it on. The quicker we realize what the issues are, the glitches are if you will the better able we will be to address them and we are watching the situation carefully in terms of the opening of the airport just two days later; school reopens on the Monday and Wednesday the airport reopens and so that has to be a consideration for us but as I’ve said before people can be reassured that we will monitor the situation and the minute we get some indication that there is some kind of threat to our children’s health we will take those necessary precautions including but not limited to closing our schools if the situation arises.”
One of those schools include the Hummingbird Elementary. Love News went to the school earlier today to see what Covid-19 protocols they have implemented. The administration, however, denied us an interview on the matter.