Posted: Wednesday, March 16, 2022. 10:42 am CST.
By Aaron Humes: Whatever fears about COVID-19 exposure for students returning to schools appears to have subsided, according to the Ministry of Education, Culture, Science and Technology.
But the Ministry remains cautious about a full return to face-to-face learning at this time, saying the matter needs further “careful thought and consideration,” in the words of Chief Executive Officer Dian Castillo-Maheia, who said they remain in close consultation with the Ministry of Health and Wellness on next steps.
CEO Castillo-Maheia told reporters on Tuesday that, “We have almost 100 percent of our schools that have returned for hybrid, face-to-face learning. As a matter of fact, we are now starting to get a lot of requests to see whether or not we can begin the boost the coming back; what we have seen over the past few weeks is that attendance has increased because the numbers are going down for COVID, the numbers are going up in school.”
Attendance at schools has risen from an average of 50 percent in January to around 70 to 80 percent across schools, urban and rural. And believe it or not, she adds, “definitely what we see are lots of happy students. The students are really enjoying being back; the teachers are grateful because the challenge now is addressing the learning loss, now that they’re back.”
Castillo-Maheia added that with hybrid learning now almost fully in place, “what we are getting requests for is having more students back at a time – in some schools where they are doing 50 percent at a time and the kids are there for two days [a week], we’re having parents saying, ‘when can they be there for three days [a week]’ and to be honest, so are the teachers. The teachers are saying, ‘Look, we need to see them more, we want to have more engagement.’
On the issue of some schools complaining that they have run out of school cleaning supplies, the CEO said schools are encouraged to reach out via a link at the Ministry’s website as they are anticipating a further donation of nearly 1,900 packages for distribution – but she warned that while schools cannot stockpile what they have, ask and you shall receive if the Ministry has it.
And concerns over homeschooling have also dwindled according to Castillo-Maheia, who told us she has received very few such requests on her desk. The minimum requirement for homeschooling is an Associate Degree.
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