Schools likely to reopen after Easter Holidays – Manickchand
Education Minister Priya Manickchand on Saturday announced that Government is looking to have schools in Guyana fully reopened after the Easter holidays but in the meantime, classrooms will remain closed for the month of March except for Grades 10, 11 and 12 students.
According to Manickchand, Health Minister Dr Frank Anthony has advised that schools continue to be closed to the traditional classroom learning in the new month.
“For now, we remain close to face-to-face learning… So, for the month of March, we’re going to stay close to face-to-face learning for every grade except for Grades 10, 11 and 12,” the Education Minister noted.
Manickchand pointed out that her ministry has not taken any decision that without consulting with and the advice of Dr Anthony, who has been looking at ways that his Ministry can accommodate the return of classroom learning to the benefit of everyone involved especially students.
In fact, she noted that this will become more a reality now that the Health Ministry has already rolled out its COVID-19 vaccination campaign earlier this month.
“Oonce that goes smoothly and as plan, we anticipate that we’re going to be able to open schools sometime after the Easter holiday – not too long after. Please remember, while that is our intention and a desire, that would be dependent upon further advice of the Health Ministry about how well the vaccination programme happen, and how successful they were with the numbers they had anticipate they wanted to meet,” Minister Manickchand asserted.
Meanwhile, the Education Minister pointed out that they continue to benefit from the learning across the world that they should try to get back to face-to-face learning as soon as possible, there are certain risks that as a government that they to take into consideration.
“The research suggests that the more schools stay close, the more long term disadvantages we will have.The more students are likely to dropout and the more students are likely to suffer from severe learning lost. The recommendation is that, as quickly as we can, go back into the classrooms at all levels. Guyana is noting that.
“We are deeply concerned as other countries around the world that even after COVID goes – after we’ve dealt with it and contained it that we might be left with long term problems that we will need to address. So, we want to minimise that as far as possible. But in the meantime, we have a duty in the government to keep our teachers, children and families safe. How do we make that balance work?” she contended.
Manickchand further outlined that government has since employed some non-traditional methods in the education system of engaging students.
These include refashioning of the Guyana Learning Channel to deliver education in a scheduled, timetabled way that matches the curriculum; delivering education on the radio; and crafting and creating worksheets that are specific to and follow the curriculum on a weekly basis for each subjects, among others.
“Those facts and notes are accompanied by lessons and activities would try to reenforce that learning. We know that none of those or even a combination of them would not replace the value of a trained teacher in front of a classroom. But that is what we do in the absence of being able to go back in the classroom,” the Minister posited.
She reminded that when government sought to resume face-to-face learning for some Grades in October last year, parents were told that if they are not comfortable then their children will continue to be facilitated for at home learning.
“Many schools have adopted a blended approach. They do some of the academic work online and they do some practicals in the classroom. Some schools have gone back out fully and some have really avoided going back out. So, we really left it up to the schools and the PTAs to determine what is best for each individual school,” Manickchand stated.
On this note, nevertheless, the Education Minister implored with schools and teachers to continue with these new learning techniques to serve in the best interest of children.
“We encourage teachers to continue to engage students online by various means… We encourage teachers to continue to mark worksheets and I encourage parents to continue to give us the hand you’ve been giving us. We know this has not been an easy time for anyone… This is soon to be over, there is a short time left,” Manickchand said, while adding that government is working feverishly to keep the population safe while trying to get students back into classrooms physically.
Guyana two weeks ago rolled out the administration of the COVID-19 vaccines. That batch of Astra-Zeneca vaccines was donated by the Government of Barbados and it has already been used to vaccinate over 2000 frontline healthcare workers.
Last Monday, Dr Anthony said that they will go ahead and administer all the vaccines donated by Barbados as the first dose and await the arrival of follow-up vaccines to administer the second dose. He subsequently announced on Friday last that Guyana will be getting 80,000 doses of the AstraZeneca jab from Indian in the new month.
Meanwhile, Guyana is currently awaiting the arrival of another batch of 104,000 vaccines from the COVAX facility (co-led by WHO, UNICEF, Gavi – the Vaccine Alliance and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations). (G8)