Posted: Thursday, January 6, 2022. 12:40 pm CST.
Photo Credit: Ministry of Education
By Rubén Morales Iglesias: While countries around the world grapple with the idea of opening schools or not due to the Omicron spread, many have settled on a hybrid formula.
Belize is no exception and is going that way as well. When classes start again on Monday, some students will attend classes in person, others will do so virtually for a period of time and then they will switch, giving all the opportunity of face-to-face education.
The Ministry of Education which had been hoping to resume face-to-face education in January has had to settle for the hybrid formula. The compromise schools have agreed to, will have a set of students attending school for in-person education one week and while the other set does classes virtually. The two sets will switch the following week.
“Our children deserve to get back to doing the things they love!” said the Ministry of Education.
“2022 cannot be yet another year of disrupted learning due to the COVID-19 pandemic. We’re putting the education and the best interests of our children, first. Together and safely, we will return beginning January 10th!”
Like other schools, the Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA) Pre-School had been having virtual classes before the Christmas break.
YWCA Interim General Secretary Diane Haylock said she had been hopeful the Ministry of Education would allow in-person education when classes resume in January but said she will have to settle for the hybrid model.
“One has to live in hope that 2022 will be a far better year,” Haylock said in December. “I’m hopeful that we’ll be able to open fully.”
“We are very anxious to get them back in class, face-to-face. The hybrid mix allows for some face-to-face and some virtual.”
Haylock said that while doing virtual classes from home, the school children are distracted by family members such as parents, guardians, and siblings.
“That will be great because when you look at what’s going on with the virtual classes … there is a lot of distraction in the home. Parents might not really be able to give that dedicated time to the children, so in the back of our minds there’s always the concern that what they are actually acquiring and what they are retaining might not be at the level that it would be if they were actually in class with their teachers face to face.”
But for now, Belize’s school population will have to do with the hybrid model until a total return to classes is possible.
Of course, for fear of the wildfire spread of the COVID-19 Omicron variant some are not at all convinced students should return physically to schools yet.
So, schools are preparing for Monday with stringent security measures such as social distancing, handwashing or sanitization, and mask-wearing.
It’s not going to be easy, but life goes on and the best way students, teachers, administrators, and other staff can protect themselves against the coronavirus spreading more is for them and the rest of us to follow the health guidelines.
The Ministry of Education is also encouraging all students who are of age to be vaccinated to do so as well.
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