Whether you are a parent, a student or an educator, the biggest question surrounding COVID-19 recovery across Belize is: when will schools reopen for in-person learning?  This morning on Channel Five’s Open Your Eyes, Minister of Education Francis Fonseca gave a start date for all students, but indicated some students may need to go back to school before the rest.

Francis Fonseca, Minister of Education

“We want to take a phased approach to this. Because I pointed out, there are particular groups that are vulnerable, particularly disadvantaged. So we are looking at putting in models for special education students for example. Special needs students. For our ITVET students who need skills training and they need to get back into their workshops and get their hands on their tools. We need to have a specific plan for getting them back into their classrooms. 

Marleni Cuellar, Host, Open Your Eyes

“Minister, you speak of a phased approach, but have you been able to come up with a timeline? Because I know that the new school year begins in August or September and perhaps there are those who are anticipating that presumably by then they would be returning to the classrooms.”

Francis Fonseca

“Yes, absolutely our timeline is for rolling out this phased approach [uhm] between April and September. So our objective would be that come September everyone, our hope and objective is that everyone should be back in the classroom for the new school year. But we can’t wait for September. We have to make sure we are taking a phased approach to it.”

The Ministry of Education has appointed a COVID-19 Education Task Force to come up with a plan for restarting schools. The members are Special Envoy Rossana Briceño, Senators Isabel Bennett and Elena Smith, Acting Director of Health Services Melissa Diaz Musa, high school principals Jamie Usher and Salome Tillett, and Martine King of Mind Health Connect.

Channel 5