Schools will reopen when Health Ministry gives the greenlight
– Safety remains paramount
– Regional assessments underway
On Friday, Minister of Education, Hon. Priya Manickchand, said that works are ongoing to ensure that schools are equipped with the necessary infrastructure to ensure a safe reopening for face-to-face interaction post-Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19).
According to Minister Manickchand, while a realistic prediction of the reopening cannot be determined presently, it will be inevitable and the country must be ready. As such, assessments have been ongoing, using a consultant approved checklist from the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO).
Based on the checklist, schools must be equipped with adequate hand washing sinks, ventilation, space based on registered students and teachers, running water and flushing toilets, among other amenities.
Most regions have completed these assessments and submitted the relevant information to the Ministry. However, the process which will need funds to rectify shortcomings in schools, has been stalled by unforeseen circumstances.
“A lot of it got stuck in Region Five and Six because of the protests and the commotion that was happening there. Most of the regions have finished and we’re getting that information in. The Budget is about to be passed and this kind of things requires money,” the Minister said.
Nevertheless, she assured that, “it’s not going to be delayed in anyway on our part. We are going to be ready once the Ministry of Health says we can reopen schools”.
Minister Manickchand further said that decisions taken by health experts will be based on the epidemiological patterns of the contagious disease and consistent mass testing will paint a more vivid image of Guyana’s situation.
The Minister also reminded that the closure of schools to face-to-face interaction was not done because of failure on the Ministry’s part to ensure education delivery, but because it was necessary to protect students, parents and teachers.
“We are not closed because we are not ready to deliver education or because we don’t’ want to deliver education. In fact, the easiest thing to do would be to open the school doors and say to come in. then we don’t have to create documents and create new materials and try to get content for the Learning Channel,” Minister Manickchand said.
She continued, “we are closed now because there is a pandemic that we have been advised by the medical [officials]…that we should not have children or adults gathering in large numbers in indoor facilitates particularly, because that can contribute to community spread of the disease.”
As schools remain closed to in-person learning, the Ministry has announced the resumption of learning on Monday, September 14, 2020 featuring printed packages, online learning, Interactive Radio Instructions (IRI), television and other methods all catered for in a $300Million allocation from the National Budget, specifically for blended learning amid the pandemic.