Minister More Flexible Than Firm on School Opening Date

It's August, a time when parents would normally be preparing to send their kids back to school - but that was before the pandemic, an era in which the classroom became seen as a possible COVID petri dish.

And while we'd been promised a return to face-to-face learning, that's a situation that may be put on pause given the recent spike in Covid numbers.

This morning when we caught up with the Minister of education we asked him what's up with the return to school?

Hon. Francis Fonseca, Minister of Education
"The dates are August 23rd for secondary schools and August 30th for primary schools. We've always planned for a hybrid approach to education, so our plan has always been about having a hybrid approach, blended learning, remote learning as well as face-to-face instruction, with the hope that we could have full face-to-face instruction. That has always been the plan. So, if it is that the Ministry of Health says to us over the next 2 weeks or so that they are not recommending that we have face-to-face instructions, then we will have to fall back to our original plan which we already have in place for remote learning, online learning. So that is in place, we've discussed that with all of our managing authorities across the country. Our district education centers are with schools in their communities to make sure that everybody is ready if we have to go that route. But as I said we remain hopeful and we have a plan in place. So it's not one plan, its plan A, plan B, plan C and we are hopeful that we can contain the spread of the virus over the next few weeks, have the numbers down to a manageable number and can have face-to-face instructions."

So, as you heard, secondary schools are set to be reopened on August 23rd with primary schools expected to open their doors on August 30th.

70% Of Teachers Vaccinated

For now, the fate of face-to-face learning remains in limbo but that could change quite quickly if educators make what the government would call the responsible decision, and get vaccinated.

The Minister of Education says that Belize's teachers have already achieved their 70% mark on vaccination.

"What percentage of teachers have been vaccinated to your knowledge?"

Hon. Francis Fonseca, Minister of Education
"The latest figure we have is we are up to 72% of teachers vaccinated. Very good news, we are moving in the right direction, so we are very hopeful and I can say we are working in collaboration with the Belize National Teachers Union, we worked very closely with them, we recently did a survey along with them of all our teachers to get figures about exactly where teachers were who were not getting vaccinated so that we can have a specific targeted program to work with them and give them the information they need to get comfortable about getting a vaccine. So, it's looking very good of the teachers who are not vaccinated which is good news. I think over 60% of them said that they plan to get vaccinated. So that's good, I think we will be, by the time end of August rolls around I think we will be well over 80% of our teachers vaccinated."

Channel 7