Classrooms open for Grades 10 to 12 only – Minister warns private schools

Classrooms open for Grades 10 to 12 only – Minister warns private schools
Education Minister Priya Manickchand has sent strict warnings to private schools about the current face-to-face learning arrangement, asserting that this is only the case for Grades 10, 11 and 12.

Education Minister Priya Manickchand

This was in light of reports that there was unauthorised reopening for other grades at private institutions, the Department of Public Information (DPI) reported. Manickchand acknowledged that while some institutions have the resources to facilitate other grades, it is unsafe at this stage.
“Except for the levels that we have announced: fourth, fifth and sixth formers or Grades 10, 11 and 12, no school is allowed to reopen beyond those levels… I know a lot of private schools are claiming that they have the space to properly social distance and they have the means to make sure their students are wearing masks and washing their hands, [but] we cannot allow private schools to do what public schools can’t do,” the subject Minister positioned.
If other grades were to return to a physical classroom setting, Manickchand said the Ministry would be unable to effectively monitor this increase.
“At this stage, it is unsafe and unhealthy for those schools to be reopened. We don’t have the ability to monitor that and the Ministry of Health, at this point, is saying that nothing more than that— levels we opened already.”
Government has been working to engage students virtually, especially since schools have been closed for almost one year. There has been training for teachers in online delivery of education along with a partnership with Coursera to offer free courses to all Guyanese. An agreement was also forged with Internet providers for teachers to be granted free access to the teaching platforms.
There was a blended method to address challenges of epidemiological patterns, Internet access, and availability of resources through the usage of radio, the Internet, the Learning Channel and workpapers. In the hinterland regions, workbooks and materials were provided where electricity and Internet access are limited. Toolkits were also procured with added textbooks to distribute to students. The Guyana Learning Channel has since expanded its reach and there have been textbook and worksheet distribution.
Since last year, the Ministry has been assessing the environment of schools across the country, to look at sanitisation stations, ventilation and other important aspects of reopening which need to be catered for during a pandemic. Manickchand had said that while they can keep students safe in a classroom environment, transportation and other issues become a problem.
To further expand, it was announced that $200 million has been set aside to support the expansion efforts. Vice President Bharrat Jagdeo had noted that spending the $200 million would see better ways of connecting with the students.
The limited reopening was done specifically to prepare students who will be sitting the Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) examinations and Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examinations (CAPE) in 2021.