Re-opening of schools delayed by surge in COVID cases, unbalanced vaccination uptake

- Education Minister pleads with teachers, parents to get vaccinated

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The reopening of schools for face-to-face classes has been further delayed by the surge in COVID-19 cases locally and an unbalanced uptake of vaccination across Guyana, according to Minister of Education, Priya Manickchand.

“For the month of May, we have been advised that given the number of COVID infections, as well as the rate of the vaccination process, that we will stay closed except for the classrooms that have already been opened and have already returned to school,” the Education Minister highlighted on Thursday during a briefing on her Facebook page.

On April 1, the Minister said that there would be no face-to-face learning for the month except for those classrooms that were already reopened. The classes already opened are Grades 10, 11 and 12. Then, she noted that the reopening of other grades, from May, would be contingent upon a robust vaccination campaign.

During the short briefing on Thursday, Minister Manickchand related that the Cabinet met and heard about the local COVID-19 situation from Minister of Health, Dr. Frank Anthony. While the vaccination rollout has been well-administered and has been progressing, the Education Minister said that the local authorities are concerned about the slothful uptake of vaccines in some communities and from some stakeholder groups.

Minister of Education, Priya Manickchand

Though Guyana is undergoing a nationwide rollout, vaccination remains optional and not mandatory. Even so, Minister Manickchand pleaded with teachers and parents to get vaccinated.

“If you have an interest in having our schools open then you have to have an interest in having as many people as possible take the vaccine because that’s the only way we will change the picture of COVID.

“If you want to see your kids back in the classroom, and you think that’s good for them, then you need to take the vaccines as parents. If, as a teacher, you are concerned about your children being out of school for so long, you need to take the vaccine,” she said.

While schools will remain closed for the month of May, the minister noted that she will provide another update before the beginning of June, unless information is made available before.

Aside from the delayed reopening of schools, the COVID-19 pandemic has already forced the Education Ministry to take the decision to cancel the Grades Two, Four and Nine assessments along with the ministry’s placement examinations, this year.

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