Schools to start re-opening in April
Saturday, March 27th, 2021
After months of distance learning due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Belize schools will re-open to provide in-class lessons via a phased plan beginning April 12th. Cabinet approved this plan on Tuesday, March 23rd, and a memo was distributed to all educational institutions and organizations throughout the six districts.
The re-opening will be separated into two groups- 1 and 2. The first group is set to see schools re-opening on April 12th and the second one on May 10th. According to the Minister of Education (MOE), the Honourable Francis Fonseca, the phased re-opening will go through September of this year. As a result, not all schools will open their campuses at once. For a school to re-initiate in-person classes, they must submit re-opening plans to MOE and will be allowed to operate once their plan is approved.
MOE’s Chief Executive Officer Dian Maheia explained the criteria of the plan. According to her, a form providing information such as the school’s demographics, location, and student level must be submitted. The school must explain how they plan to re-open. For example, a high school can choose to bring back their first or fourth formers first. A primary school may decide to allow their standard six students to return first. The plan can also include the return of students who require academic assistance to get them back on track. Schools can submit a plan detailing the return of all students at once as well.
On Ambergris Caye, some schools have reportedly start preparing their plans to re-open. Secondary and tertiary schools on the island have been offering virtual classes, while primary schools and pre-schools distributed learning packages weekly. Distance learning is a challenge for students and parents, who have taken the extra duty of being teachers at home. The announcement that phased education will soon start is welcomed by many island teachers, who believe getting back to the classrooms is important for all students’ benefit.
Meanwhile, some parents on Ambergris Caye shared that they are hesitant to send their children back to school. One of their concerns is that COVID-19 is still out there. The other reason is that teachers do not need to be vaccinated against the virus. MOE said teachers are strongly encouraged to get vaccinated, but if a teacher declines, they must report to work. MOE indicated that the return to school is not conditional based on whether a teacher has or has not received the vaccine.
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