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On the reopening of schools for hybrid learning – My view

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Posted: Friday, January 7, 2022. 3:58 pm CST.

Тhе vіеwѕ ехрrеѕѕеd іn this аrtісlе аrе those оf the writer аnd nоt nесеѕѕаrіlу those оf Вrеаkіng Веlіzе Nеwѕ or the institutional employer of the author.

By Angelique Ayuso: Let me weigh in on this school reopening debate. Now I am not opposed to the opening of schools and as a matter of fact, schools should open. I just think the plan is not thoroughly thought-through.

Let me break it down: the understanding I got is that individual schools will use their discretion to engage in some sort of hybrid or face-to-face learning. BUT the factors to consider are as follows:

1. the rate of contagion

2. the efficacy of vaccination

3. the prevalence of underlying health conditions (especially in education professionals and children) that increases the instances of COVID related hospitalization or death, and

4. the probability of being infected.

No matter how you cut the pie, the average student-teacher ratio in the Belizean classroom is 35 – 1. What this ratio suggests is that each week at the primary school level, the least likelihood of the probability of contracting COVID-19 will be a 35 chance for each meeting session. I am not even factoring in the students’ chances as yet. Now, when because I won’t say IF this teacher contracts COVID, what is the contingency in place? That teacher will be out for 10 – 14 days, and when that teacher is on sick leave, who will teach the students? Or are those teachers who are already underpaid and sacrificing for this nation with a 10% pay cut expected to now revert back to online or distance learning (ODL) while sick? Or will the situation be that students who are getting at least some semblance of continuous exposure to academics end up having 10-14 day interruptions in learning due to an indisposed teacher? Keep in mind a teacher can contract COVID more than once.

I saw the interview about the rate of infection at schools among students, and the number was relatively low. Let’s use 5% as a theoretical example. If there are say 7,000 students in primary schools in the Cayo District, this means that theoretically about 350 children will contract COVID; a small number, right? Three hundred and fifty households will be exposed to COVID. Have you checked to see who in your household has compromised immune systems? Now, let’s say theoretically only 2% of children who contract COVID will die. A small figure, right? that represents about 7 children; how many of you are willing to sacrifice your child? Do you even know if your child has an underlying condition?

Don’t mind me…am just Thinking Out Loud. By all means, open schools, give my children and I proper and timely resources to be safe, and I will go teach on the moon if that’s what it takes.

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