Back in August, the Ministries of Health and Education designated October 4th as the day for schools to open with in class instruction. Since then, the reality on the ground has changed dramatically with numbers of COVID 19 deaths and new cases soaring to their highest levels.

And while that is a health emergency - there is also an education emergency. Children and adolescents have been out of school for 19 months - and the physical disconnect from their peers and their teachers has seriously set back their education and socialisation.

So, despite the numbers, the Ministry of Education decided to proceed with the planned opening day on October four for hybrid learning.

This morning on Sunup on 7, the top brass the the Ministry of Education explained what that means and disclosed how many schools actually did open heir doors to students:

Host
"Did schools open yesterday?"

Yolanda Gongora, Chief Education Officer
"Some schools did. I am aware one particular school in Belize District, 26 of the children went to school and there was bus transportation for them, but it's being done on an alternate day. So they have an A and a B group and that's how they are going to return slowly to the classrooms."

Host
"What is the name of the only school that reopened?"

Yolanda Gongora, Chief Education Officer
"Zion from Maskall."

Dian Maheia, Chief Executive Officer
"What we are saying starting on October 4th if schools are able to meet the criteria that we would determine as best as possible that it would be safer then to begin to return their students in groups back to school."

Host
"In terms of the amount of school that have been applying, what would you say the numbers are?"

Yolanda Gongora, Chief Education Officer
"We have approximately 675 schools overall from pre-primary to tertiary. Of those, 71 up to today have applied. However, 56 have been approved based on additional information that we need from some of the schools. So more or less we are talking about maybe 8% of our schools are open and again they are not all open totally today. Some of them have requested the green light, so that they do their final preparations. Some will open on Monday, some are opening in 2 weeks' time, but they needed that assurance that they can open and they can finalize."

CEO Dian Maheia stressed that while she accepts some parents are not ready t send their kids back t schools - decision makers have to keep in mind those whose voices are not being heard:

Dian Maheia, Chief Executive Officer
"We do have 2 many students who do not have that measure of support and that is precisely why it is so important for us to work towards a plan that is measured, that is gradual and that is safe to bring these children back, because across the spectrum in every district, this is not just about a rural versus urban thing, this is across our country and this is from pre-primary to tertiary. We have students who are not supported. So, even though we know, we've all heard the comments on both ends of the spectrum and we know that there are parents who are saying well I don't care what you do, my child isn't going back to school and that's okay. This is not a time for us to demand or command anything, but it is a time for us to remain mindful of those who don't have people to advocate for them."

56 schools have been approved to open.

Channel 7