Schools to remain closed to face-to-face learning in September 

— schools’ terms may have to be adjusted 

DPI, Guyana, Friday, August 14, 2020

Newly-appointed Minister of Education, Hon. Priya Manickchand, has announced that, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, schools will not be reopened on September 7, 2020, until further notice.

“From the beginning, I promised that science, statistics, best practices from across the world, realities in Guyana, and our paramount duty to serve the best interests of our children, will inform all decisions we take regarding schooling and COVID-19,” the Minister reassured.

The Education Minister has been meeting with several stakeholders concerning education delivery and the way forward for the September school term since being sworn in, and this has led to a number of discoveries.

The Minister explained that through these meetings, it was realised that most students have not been academically engaged in a structured manner from March to present.

The tremendous loss of income of families and the worry of the parents, teachers and community leaders were also revealed.

This will result in premature school leaving or dropouts, with students not completing their education… We, therefore, cannot reopen schools on September 7th, 2020, as was previously scheduled. All schools shall remain closed to face-to-face teaching for September, while we continue to review and evaluate the evolution of the disease and our schools’ readiness.”

Minister of Education, Hon. Priya Manickchand.

As a result of the implications, Minster Manickchand clarified, education delivery will continue; however, the solution will be to utilise innovative learning techniques, such as technology, including the Guyana Learning Channel.

Works are in motion to have the channel broadcast to areas it has stopped broadcasting or has never broadcast, to ensure quality learning for all.

Learning kits and packages, including print, are also being developed to deliver to specific categories of students. Teachers will be re-trained and an extra week or so may be added to the term when schools reopen.

“We will have to use blended, multifaceted learning approaches in the coming months. We will have to tailor our approach based on the knowledge of epidemiological patterns, physical spacing, internet connectivity, television reception, teacher availability,” the Education Minister outlined.

This decision was taken to protect students, teachers, and parents from the COVID-19 pandemic. The Ministry of Education will continue working with the Ministry of Health to develop safety protocols and the way forward for the eventual reopening for face-to-face learning.

“We know that children are writing regional and other examinations and assessments, and we have a duty to ensure that their maximum readiness for those exams. We also know that we must keep our teachers, children and their families safe.”

Importantly, the Education Minister emphasised the fact that once face-to-face classes resume, consideration will have to be given to an adjusted the classroom schedule.

“We may have to have an extended school week; we may have to do a rotation of students and teachers. These are all being examined with urgency and we will let you know as we make these important decisions,” she stated.

She also expressed the hope that some of these initiatives will be operable by the second week in September.

This decision is in keeping with the will of His Excellency, Mohamed Irfaan Ali, President of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana, to ensure the safety of all students, parents, teachers, and, by extension, families.

“President Irfaan Ali is deeply concerned about the effect of COVID on our children’s education and wellbeing, in the short, medium and long-term. His Excellency asked me early on for an urgent practical plan on the way forward for students,” Minister Manickchand stated. 

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