The long-awaited return to schools for physical classes draws nearer as the Ministry of Education on Monday announced that some schools will reopen on September 6, 2021, but that this reopening depends on teachers and children getting vaccinated as well as individual schools’ readiness.
In a press release issued on Monday evening, the Education Ministry stated that the move to reopen schools comes in response to a majority of parents calling for schools to be reopened.
“The Ministry of Education is compelled to support this call because of what we are aware is happening to our students since the school doors were closed back in March.
“We have seen our students suffer great learning loss and we have lost some of them from the sector who have essentially ‘dropped out’ of school,” the press release stated.
It was noted that efforts have been made to bring those learners back into the formal education system. Otherwise, the efforts have been made to roll out a menu of measures to keep children engaged during the pandemic; these include printing worksheets, expanding the Guyana Learning Channel and launching quiz platforms.
Still, the ministry said, “… despite these measures geared towards the continuity of learning, the fact remains that it was not enough and not as effective as face-to-face learning. Our students are suffering.
“Learning at home is not as effective as students sitting in a classroom with their teacher in front of them teaching a lesson.”
It is for this reason that the decision was made to reopen schools – not universally, but on an individualised basis. The Education Ministry said that based on the space and circumstances at each school individualised measures will be applied to ensure the safety of all.
Importantly, too, schools will be ready for reopening and parents along with teachers will be informed of the individualised reopening measures for the respective schools in the coming days.
The News Room understands that vaccination is also a crucial aspect in the reopening of schools to ensure that the children and teachers are kept safe.
President Dr. Irfaan Ali highlighted previously that the government had been working to secure Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines to administer to children between the ages of 12 to 18.
On Monday, these vaccines were given full approval by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) of the United States (US) and on Tuesday, Guyana will receive its first shipment of these Pfizer vaccines as a donation from the US.
As such, the ministry has already started to issue parental consent forms so that parents can grant their approval for their children to get vaccinated. And, on Monday, the ministry encouraged children to let their children get vaccinated but noted that this COVID-19 vaccination is not mandatory.
Teachers, who are not yet vaccinated, were also encouraged to get vaccinated.
To this end, the ministry highlighted, “… how schools reopen will depend on how the adult population of the schools respond to being vaccinated.”
Meanwhile, as the reopening of schools for the new academic year draws nearer, the education ministry stated that parents who choose not to send their child to school on the days they are scheduled to attend will be enjoined with the responsibility of ensuring that the child is continuously engaged at home.
Importantly, though, the ministry said that children at home will be able to access all of the Ministry’s materials on the ministry’s website.