MoE urges parents to have children vaccinated
In response to the majority of parents calling for schools to be reopened, the Ministry of Education restates its intention to reopen schools on September 6, 2021.
The Ministry of Education is compelled to support this call because of what we are aware is happening to our students since the school doors were closed back in March. We have seen our students suffer great learning loss and we have lost some of them from the sector who have essentially ‘dropped out’ of school. We have embarked on an ambitious exercise to find these students and bring them back into the formal education system.
These outcomes as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic are highly undesirable and any circumstance or situation that promotes this must be addressed for any continuation will have long-lasting negative effects on our students, the education sector, the country and the global community.
Studies have also shown that the longer schools are closed, the greater our students will be affected. While schools were closed the Ministry of Education implemented several initiatives to help our students to remain engaged in learning at home. We are very proud of what we were able to do under the prevailing circumstances and challenges.
The Ministry of Education printed thousands of worksheets for each grade which corresponded with the curriculum and what each child should have been learning if they were in the classroom.
The Guyana Learning Channel undertook the production of recorded lessons done by local teachers on the various topics outlined in the curriculum. This content has been airing on the channel according to a timetabled schedule to ensure children across the grades are engaged. The videos were also uploaded to the GLC’s Youtube channel so that they can be streamed at any time.
The Ministry of Education’s website has been zero-rated by the major internet providers so that parents and students do not have to pay or use their data when accessing all of the learning resources that are available on the platform.
To assist the Grade Six students to write this year’s National Grade Six Assessment, the Quiz Me Platform was developed to allow pupils to practice examination quality questions. Grade Six pupils also received study packages containing textbooks, notes and worksheets for each subject and a special television series dubbed the “NGSA Booster Programme” where a video was created for each and every topic in the consolidated curriculum, was aired.
Our teachers also stepped up and worked to ensure they kept those students under their charge engaged in learning online as much as possible. We thank them.
However, despite these measures geared towards the continuity of learning, the fact remains that it was not enough and not as effective as face-to-face learning. Our students are suffering. Learning at home is not as effective as students sitting in a classroom with their teacher in front of them teaching a lesson. This is the reality.
With this in mind along with the desire of the majority of parents, the Ministry of Education will be reopening schools on September 6, 2021.
We are cognizant that some schools will have different challenges and needs regarding a reopening and as such, individualized plans tailored for each school will be implemented to ensure the safety of our teachers, students and support staff.
This plan, which will be informed by all the science and learning about COVID 19 including social distancing, sanitizing and mask wearing will benefit from the input of teachers and the Parent-Teacher Associations of each school and will be announced in the coming days.
Important in the process to reopen schools is the vaccination programme for pupils 12 years and over. Today, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) of the United States of America gave full approval for the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine. In May of this year, the FDA had expanded the emergency use authorization for the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine to children 12 years and over.
On Tuesday, August 24, 2021, Guyana will receive its first shipment of Pfizer vaccines, a donation from the United States of America. This vaccine will be administered solely to the Guyanese population within that age group. Whilst vaccination of children will not be mandatory, we are urging parents to consider the benefits that this vaccine will provide to their children and consent to the vaccine being administered to their children.
Parental consent forms for this vaccine have been delivered to schools and can be downloaded from the Ministry’s website at: https://education.gov.gy/covid-vaccine.
Parents can also fill an e-form which can be submitted to indicate their consent. This can be accessed at: https://education.gov.gy/PfizerRegistration.
Also, if parents are unable to submit the physical copies, they can take a photograph of the completed form and submit it via Whatsapp to telephone number: 652 – 9144. So far thousands of children have received their parents’ consent.
Since the consent forms were circulated to schools and made available online, children in the thousands have received consent from their parents to have the vaccine administered to them. We commend them for making this decision and urge other parents to consider the benefits. Teachers were also urged today in a separate press statement to take one of the available vaccines because how schools reopen will depend on how the adult population of the school respond to being vaccinated.
Parents who choose not to send their child to school on the days they are scheduled to attend will be enjoined with the responsibility of ensuring that child is continuously engaged at home and, to this end, will be able to access all of the Ministry’s materials on our website.