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Will schools be ready to re-open on time?

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Posted: Friday, July 10, 2020. 7:49 pm CST.

By Aaron Humes: The Belize National Teachers’ Union (BNTU) has warned that the “cart has been placed before the horse” with regard to the August 10 reopening of schools countrywide.

President Elena Smith says that a meeting with the Ministry of Education raised concern that school managements, which are responsible for obtaining the necessary items for enforcing social distancing and so on, have passed the buck to school principals who are now scrambling to get ready.

“It has to be that the managements take on their responsibility, and that the Ministry holds them accountable – the same way the Ministry wants to hold teachers accountable for everything that we do, they must hold managements accountable and have them ensure that they have those things before we begin classes…we should have had those things in place first, then set a date to say, ‘Okay, everything is in place; we can now reopen, because everything is in place.’ That was not done,” Smith said.

The concern for the health and safety of teachers and students increases, Smith said, knowing that the International Airport is set to reopen on August 15 and there is a distinct possibility that some will reject the quarantine regulations and jeopardize others. She cites the case of Guyana, where some 21 teachers are sick with COVID-19 and one died after coming into contact with students infected from across the border.

In the case of Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) examinations which start next week, Smith said the concern is eased because more classrooms can be used for the fourth-form students taking those exams.

As for any formal protest, Smith said, “anything is possible” and that decision lies with the Union’s members.

 

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