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New school year will be shorter, more flexible

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Posted: Thursday, July 8, 2021. 3:30 pm CST.

By Aaron Humes: The various stakeholders among the Ministry of Education, the school managements and the Belize National Teachers’ Union (BNTU), as well as the special committee formed earlier this year to study the task of school reopening, have yet to agree on a formal date for school reopening, traditionally the last week of August or first week of September. The dates are usually earlier for post-primary education.

But it has been agreed that the work week will be five hours shorter, and the school year, including holidays, about two weeks shorter.

BNTU President Senator Elena Smith told us on Wednesday, referring to the reduced work week of five hours, “Our teachers haven’t gotten that as yet. We know that public officers have gotten the hour. It was easier to give the public officers the hour than the teachers because we know there are a lot of teachers involved in teaching.”

Options as to how best to implement the reduced work week are on the table after meeting with the Ministry of Education. That could mean school starting earlier, or finishing later, or an elimination of lunch or medium breaks, depending.

Smith told us that the teachers will not be asked, nor should they be, to “make up” hours believed to be lost as a result of the reduced work. They had previously negotiated for a shorter school year of 38 weeks, down from 40 or 41.

The calendar is to be hammered out sometime in the next few weeks, before “free paper bun.”

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