Minister Says Schools Could Open in September

Posted By: Marty

Minister Says Schools Could Open in September - 08/07/20 10:52 AM

Belize's one hundred thousand primary school students are on a hyper - extended Easter straight through to summer break, but it could end in the first week of September. That's when school would have normally started - and it is now an aspirational date for opening after an explosion in the number of COVID cases forced the postponement of the August 10th opening date.

The Minister of Education explained at yesterday's press conference:

Hon. Patrick Faber, Minister of Education

"Quite frankly right now, we're thinking about a two or three week delay if we can get this thing under control, and that the school year will start, as was to be scheduled, according to the Education Act, the first week in September. I am hesitant to make that announcement, but that is really what we have in mind. In the areas with increased or confirmed community spread, school reopening may be further delayed, while in areas with low risks or no apparent community spread, schools will be allowed to open for face to face instruction. Some may ask why is it that the ministry would even decide to open schools during the COVID 19 pandemic and for that, we are saying that, we remind people, that schools have been closed since march 20th of this year and this has left over a hundred thousand Belizean students out of school for a very extended period of time. These prolonged periods without schooling can have detrimental and long-term persons, social and economic effects. And since there is no way to tell when the pandemic will be over, or if it will, if or when the situation will get worse, it is best to open schools at times and in areas when there is a low rate of infection or no community spread. We're saying as well that teachers and school administrators ought to return to school and to continue the preparation for whenever school re-opens and at the same time ought to be working on school continuity plans. We're on the summer break but once school re-opens and especially if school does not re-open, we will need to provide instruction for our children that is home based, that is what we mean by continuity plan."

And a press release from the BNTU says much the same. It tells teachers, "you are to report to work to continue preparations for the eventual opening of school doors." end quote.

And, in a rare showing of Ministerial gratitude, the BNTU says that it noted with "grateful hearts" the Minister's announcement to postpone the August 10th opening of school.

Channel 7

Posted By: Marty

Re: Minister Says Schools Could Open in September - 08/10/20 04:48 PM

Belize National Teachers Union (BNTU) discuss the next steps for teachers
The announcement was made that the reopening of schools is postponed until further notice. We were joined by Elena Smith, President of the Belize National Teachers Union (BNTU) to discuss the next steps for teachers.
Posted By: Marty

Re: Minister Says Schools Could Open in September - 08/27/20 04:47 PM

Ministry of Education Update

While this pandemic has disrupted lives, businesses, and even the public sector, our Government of Belize continues to do everything imaginable to ensure that the education of our country’s students can continue with the least disruption possible.

In that light, the Minister of Education, Youth, Sports and Culture, Hon. Patrick Faber, announces the following:

Posted By: Marty

Re: Minister Says Schools Could Open in September - 08/28/20 10:49 AM

In New Education Paradigm Parents Become Co-Teachers

Primary school starts in ten days - but, of course, it won't be anything like regular school, since there will be no in person instruction. That means parents will have to become co-teachers for these young students. It's a sharp change in roles, telling of the trying times were living in under COVID. And today on Ask The Experts, the Chief Education Officer outlined the changing role for parents - who first have to find a place at home for their students to set up:

Carol Babb - Chief Education Officer

"We would want parents to designate an area, a learning space and we want them to prepare it, have a desk, any place that the child can work in quite with very little distraction. So, for example, you may have a schedule where you allow your child to wake up at 8 AM, they get up they shower, they have breakfast and then maybe classed begin at 9 AM. So, at the primary level, at the preschool level, school will not be the usual classroom, so parents your role is very important, you will be co teachers to your child's teacher. So, you need to ensure that you have your teacher's contact information, the principal's contact information, so that you can be in touch with them to share with you, how you can support your children. We are aware that our students have been out of school for 5 months and that is a long time and we know that our students have lost quite a lot and that is why Mrs. Smith and I are here today, to appeal to parents, to co teach with us, to partner with us, to ensure that your child, your children are meaningfully engaged during these - we don't even know when school will reopen, so we need to ensure that children get every opportunity to develop both academically, physically, mentally and socially."

Cecilia Smith - Deputy Chief Education Officer

"We are not able to rely solely on the school anymore. The partnership really has to come into full force. Parents can't just say it's up to the school to do it because the students are not in school, that's the reality right now. They are not in school, they are at home, so the parents need to do their role."

PSE On Pause

And while it will surely be a trying time for the parents of these 100,000 students who have been out of school since March, one thing they won't have to worry about is the PSE for standard six students. The Chief Education Officer kinds confirmed that the PSE is on pause:


"Will the PSE still be administered this year?"

Carol Babb - Chief Education Officer

"The PSE will not did, it wasn't administered last year, and we doubt very much that it will be administered next year because we are working under not so normal circumstances, right? Children have been out for so long, we don't know when school will open, so it's quite unlikely that we may not have PSE next year. But, it's not finalized."

SBA's & C-SEC For High Schoolers A Bridge Too Far

And those parents of high schoolers entering fourth form most likely won't have to worry about those difficult SBA's and C-SEC examinations. The Chief wouldn't commit to calling them off altogether, but clearly suggested that they may be a bridge too far:


"How will SBA's be completed and what about C-SEC's?"

Carol Babb - Chief Education Officer

"Well most of the SBA's were completed for last year. For this coming school year, we're not sure. These are the things that we need to re-visit and discuss and decide how we will move forward because remember that secondary schools will not officially start until the 5th of October. We have to admit that a number of students have regressed, they are not at the level that we would want them to be, so we will need to an assessment to determine will out students be ready for CXC next year. That's something that the association of principals of secondary school will have to advise us at the Ministry of Education and then we will need to communicate to the Caribbean Examination Council to determine if indeed out students are ready."

Print Materials Are Primary Source For Primary Schoolers

And while those big end of year hurdles are out of the way - for most parents and teachers the stress is the start of the year. How the heck do you give young students meaningful instruction at home? Well, for Primary school students there will be guidance for distance learning in the form of printed material. Here's how the Chief Education officer explained it:

Cecilia Smith - Deputy Chief Education Officer

"Our primary medium that we are suggesting, we are asking schools to get that information out, is through print resources because that is the way we know it will reach to all corners of Belize but where there are cases where they can engage them in using some means of technology, that can be used to compliment the print material that they have."

Carol Babb - Chief Education Officer

"I have learnt, some schools will have a pickup box, where parents are expected to pick up assignments and so the parents, the teachers will communicate with students and tell parents you can pick up the home packages at a certain area and then teachers and parents are expected to return it back at a certain time so that teachers can mark the papers and provide feedback on the areas that the students need to improve on."

Secondary School Solution

And, for secondary schools, distance learning will be done by computer tablets. Here's a broad outline for that program which starts on October fifth:

Carol Babb - Chief Education Officer

"Distance education will be a little bit different at the secondary level. It will be done primarily online. The Ministry of Education will also be distributing very shortly, digital learning devices and eBooks to all secondary schools who do not have access to these resources. There are some secondary schools who are ready to begin online education and the Ministry of Education is allowing some schools that can demonstrate readiness, to being on the 22nd of September, if they can assure us that every child will be included on the 22nd of September if they want to begin earlier than the start-up date which is the 5th of October. Like 56% of students at the secondary level have devices, there are 22 thousand students at the secondary level, so based on that survey, we believe that there are about 11 thousand students who have and about 11 thousand students who don't have and the ministry will provide devices to the students who do not have and the survey that we are also conducting right now, we are asking teachers to name the students who don't have because later on we don't know what will happen."

If you still have questions - and we're sure you do, you can see that entire Ask The Experts show on the government of Belize Facebook page.

Channel 7

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