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Minister of Education laments re-opening schools to online classes

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Posted: Thursday, August 19, 2021. 8:15 pm CST.

By Benjamin Flowers: Minister of Education, Culture, Science and Technology Francis Fonseca today acknowledged his disappointment that schools will not re-open for face-to-face instruction at the end of the month, but notes that it was unavoidable.

COVID-19 cases continue to surge in Belize, with almost 800 cases still active, and the national referral hospital the Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital is overrun with patients, creating an unsafe environment for students, and teachers alike.

Fonseca, speaking today at a conference on the future of education in Belize, said that the hope was to re-open for face to face instruction on August 23 for high schools and August 30 for pre and primary schools, but health authorities wrote to his ministry on August 13, advising against it.

“We at the Ministry of Education want our students back in their classrooms. Too much time have been lost and out most vulnerable, at risk students, have been most negatively impacted by being out of the classroom,” Fonseca said. “We understand and appreciate that many of our school communities are devastated by our decision to delay the return to face to face instruction. The Ministry of Health has been consistent that we will at all times give priority to the health and safety of our students, teachers administrators and staff.”

Fonseca said that the ministry is obligated to follow the recommendations provided by the Ministry of Health and Wellness, but that the hope is the COVID-19 situation will be sufficiently under control for return to face to face instruction on or before October 4. He stressed that increased vaccination rates for members of the public, teachers, and the rollout of the Pfizer vaccine for Belizeans ages 12-17 years will assist with the eventual resumption on in-class learning.

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