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Will Schools Physically Reopen on October 4th? #553004
09/30/21 04:15 AM
09/30/21 04:15 AM
Joined: Oct 1999
Posts: 83,527
oregon, spr
Marty Offline OP

Marty  Offline OP
The planned reopening of schools for face-to-face learning does not seem like a good idea with the climbing COVID-19 numbers. While many students, ages twelve to seventeen, have been vaccinated, is it advisable that schools reopen? Word from the Ministry of Education is that schools can reopen on October fourth for hybrid learning, following the revised guidelines of the Ministries of Health and Education. Today we also ask Doctor Melissa Diaz-Musa about her take on school reopening.

Dr. Melissa Diaz-Musa, Deputy Regional Health Manager, Central Health Region

“Come October fourth, we have to take many things into account. We’ve got to look at our positivity rate and see that that rate is so high; it was seventeen yesterday, but it is fluctuating between ten and eighteen over the last few days. And an important thing with opening school is to open school the safest way possible. So we need to drive this positivity rate down as quickly as possible.
I think it is really important that the educational aspect of our kids is taken into account. The same way we’ve kept open certain economic areas in our country, the education of our kids is so important, it’s paramount. And when you look at the entire system, education has been the…since March of last year, our kids have not been back in school. We’ve got to look at the safest way, what schools are ready; we’ve also got to look at the community, what’s available, the internet access – all these things. We’ve got to look at the hybrid way of going back. We can’t go back to what we were used to or the original way where all thirty kids are in school and you have eight hours in the day or six hours. We’ve got to be flexible, we’ve got to be safe and we’ve got to look at the areas in education that is absolutely necessary.”

Channel 5

Re: Will Schools Physically Reopen on October 4th? [Re: Marty] #553049
10/02/21 04:28 AM
10/02/21 04:28 AM
Joined: Oct 1999
Posts: 83,527
oregon, spr
Marty Offline OP

Marty  Offline OP

GOB Pushes Ahead With School Re-opening

A subject as perplexing as violence is the re-opening of schools - should children go back to the classroom even as COVID rages?

Well, the news tonight is that the Ministry of Education is pushing ahead to re-open schools as planned on October fourth. But, only 59 schools countrywide have sent in an application to open. That's the word from Education CEO Dian Maheia who this afternoon told us that the re-opening isn't mandatory and isn't all at once.

She spoke to Cherisse Halsall via Zoom this afternoon and broke down the criteria for the October 4th reopening of schools.

Dian Maheia, CEO, Ministry of Education
"October 4th is a start date but it is not the only start date in sight so not all schools will be returning on October 4th, schools can start to return as of October 4th tho, we are working with the October 4th deadline because that is the date that the Ministry of Health set when they were planning the rollout of the Pfizer vaccine, that is the date for which we were told that is a safe date for the students from 12-17 who will be getting vaccinated. So that's the date we're working, but what we are doing now is that we are in the process of receiving and reviewing applications from schools. Up to now we have 59 applications. Now, bear in mind if a school has for example a preschool, a primary school and a secondary school its count as 3, because we look at each one by level. That's what we are doing right now and I also want to explain to you that there's a criteria that we're looking at as we look. We are looking at 5 things; we are looking at the geographical location of the school, so obviously the covid numbers in that area. We are looking at the teacher vaccination status of the school, the student vaccination status of the school which obviously will vary, because if it's a primary school, it's going to be low, because it will only be the 1213 year old maybe who will be vaccinated. The 4th criteria we are looking at is the physical readiness of the campus for the students and the teachers to return. Is the campus ready with the relevant social distancing in place, the hand washing stations that sort of thing, the signage and then the 5th criteria we are looking at is actually a lot harder r measure and that's the community context for the school. In essence how much does the community need the school to start again."

Can Schools Meet Criteria?

And the CEO isn't alone in feeling that the need for education was sacrificed for some measure of security during the pandemic.

That's 1 year and 7 months since they've sat in a classroom, raised their hands to answer a question, or played in a schoolyard with their friends. All these things - essential to a childhood and an education - lost to COVID-19.

Maheia says that moving forward, flexibility will be key in determining who can go back to school and when.

"What happens when those criteria's either don't complement each other or directly clash? In Belize City for example the geographic area is terrible, because the numbers are very high, but in that same community, the community context may really necessities that those kids need to go back to school. So how are you finding that balance?"

Dian Maheia, CEO, Ministry of Education
"This is when and why we work with the schools. Not every school is applying right now to return. Some schools have already made the decision. They've contacted us, they said we are going to continue with remote learning, we are going to continue to distance learning and that's okay. This is not a mandated return for every school right now. So, if we have a school that is saying look. because of the covid numbers right now, we are not prepared. We are going to re-evaluate in 2 weeks. We are fine with that. Flexibility is critical right now."

But Why Now For Schools?

But while the Ministry of Education is promising to bend, its efforts could just be broken by the ongoing COVID surge.

And right about now there are many parents watching the numbers go up and wondering out loud if it's really the best time for a return to school?

"With covid cases in general at such an all-time high, why proceed right now?"

Dian Maheia, CEO, Ministry of Education
"Because while the covid cases are high, so is the need for a lot of these children and its really something that we cannot deny. It's hard because we hear from the 2 extreme ends, we recognize the need to be aware of living with covid. We can't deny that covid is a deadly disease. We also recognize that this disease is not going anywhere in the forceable future and we see how students have really suffered in so many ways, because they haven't been in the classroom. This is us working to live up to our commitment. We said in conjunction with the Ministry of Health that come October 4th, we would be ready to work to bring the students back, so we are doing that and our recognition of the seriousness of covid is precisely what has stop us from saying all schools open, we are fully back in session. That's not what we are saying. We have asked schools to also be flexible, so that where there are parents saying it doesn't matter what you say, my child is not going back, that the children should be able to continue with whatever remote or distance learning options are in place for that school. That's not something that we are saying has to happen, that you have to release your child and send your child into the public if that's not something you are comfortable with. We believe that the schools can be re-open safely, we believe that the protocols are in place and that everyone knows that needs to happen, wearing your mask properly all the time, watching your distance consistently, washing and sanitizing your hands frequently. These are things that we have been teaching your children of all ages and they learn them better than some of the adults. We really believe that with following the protocols and with a measured and a gradual return, that we can bring the children back safely."

We also asked Maheia if schools have to have a certain percentage of vaccinated teachers to apply, but she said no. She also told us that while there are no hard and fast rules when it comes to percentages, it may comfort you to know that 90% of teachers nationwide have been vaccinated.

But, the UDP doesn't want to hear that. Today the opposition sent out a release calling the decision to push on with school openings, quote, "rushed and unjustified" and they question, quote, "Schools were not allowed to open for face-to-face classes when there were 45 cases, but it is now safe to send children back to school when positive cases surpass 200 per day with alarming records of up to 5 deaths per day as seen on September 30th, 2021(?)"

The UDP concludes, quote, "the younger population often acts as carriers of the virus. Thus, many of our students will be jeopardizing the overall health of their individual households, especially their elders."

Channel 7

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