Education Minister Priya Manickchand has announced that schools will remain closed in September as a result of the continued rise in the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) numbers in Guyana.
Minister Manickchand said this decision was made following widespread consultations with stakeholders on the delivery of the curriculum for the Christmas Term amid the Covid-19 pandemic. She pointed out that since schools were closed in March 2020, students have not been academically engaged in a structured manner.
Taking all the factors into consideration, Minister Manickchand announced that the government cannot reopen schools.
“There was little or no decisive and or coordinated approach in delivering education and doing so safely…Actions that were needed in the months schools were closed were not taken in their entirety or at all. This is our reality. We, therefore, cannot reopen schools on September 7, 2020 as was previously scheduled,” the Education Minister announced.
She said in order for schools to be reopened, there needs to be enough masks for both students and teachers, hand-washing facilities, and facilities to practice social distancing – which would come from a mass educational campaign.
As such, she said all schools will remain closed for September as authorities work to review and evaluate the situation and the evolution of Covid-19.
Minister Manickchand said she is aware that teachers and students have, in some cases, engaged with their students during the past few months, and she encouraged them to continue doing so.
In the meantime, the Education Minister said officials will be working on a multifaceted approach to the delivery of education. She admitted that one approach cannot suit all and all factors such as internet access will be taken into consideration.
Minister Manickchand said they are working on getting learning programmes available on the State-owned Learning Channel and working to extend the reach of that channel. They are also working on developing online programmes and printed learning packages.
Moreover, she said officials are working to develop a safety protocol for schools across the country for the inevitable situation of which they will be reopened.
When that happens, Minister Manickchand said there is a possibility of the school term being adjusted and of the school week being extended. Whatever the decision, she said the public will be kept informed.
She noted too that decisions will change as the situation relating to Covid-19 changes.