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Mar 12, 2020

Healthy Living: SCA Tests Cyber-School Day

The W.H.O. declared COVID-19 a pandemic on Wednesday, acknowledging that the disease is spreading across the globe. You saw earlier in the newscast the Prime Minister outlining the country’s preparation for any eventual outbreak. The key message continues to be that preparedness is vital. There are no confirmed cases in Belize, and there is no advice on school closures defined as yet, but one school in Belize City took the initiative to put their own preparedness plans in place and tested them today. Tonight’s Healthy Living takes us to Saint Catherine Academy to find out more about their test run of a cyber-school day.


It’s Thursday at one p.m. and the bell rings for the start of the afternoon sessions here at Saint Catherine Academy in Belize City. The students and teachers start filing back into their classrooms.


Marleni Cuellar

Marleni Cuellar

“But the first and second form classrooms on campus look like this. So, where are the students? They’re not behind their desks. They are at home logged in to today’s class via their electronic devices.”


Salome Tillett, Principal, St. Catherine Academy

“Today SCA has its first Cyber-day. It’s a school at home day and what it means is that the children should be in class, but from home. So the teachers are here, they are teaching from the classrooms, we ask them to still go to the classrooms engage your class, prepare to have a lesson as if you’re still were in class except that they are wherever they are, and you are here.”


Salome Tillett

The exercise is part of the school’s preparation if there is a COVID-19 outbreak in the country that requires school closures or limits the mobility of students.


Salome Tillett

“We realize if we have to close the schools, then will we be ready to do the learning from home and so we decided, our teachers very proactively, and heads of the department said let us try it. Let us test it and see if it will work. For the first and second forms, it was easy because we have the Digi-Learn platform and the Microsoft Team. The teachers have been using it. So we realize all our students, just about 6 I believe, did not have the internet at home but they could find somewhere where they could access the internet for the day. So they were all able to access the learning today.”


We couldn’t talk to students who participated as they were at home. The teachers were on campus and very excited about today’s test run. Science teacher, Orlando Broomfield, was delivering an Intro to Physics lesson to his second form students.


Orlando Broomfield

Orlando Broomfield, Science Teacher, SCA

“Luckily, SCA is one of the schools that has this option. It’s awesome. The students don’t have to be here, we teachers don’t have to be here. We don’t have behavioral problems. Right?  Many more resources for them to go to if they can’t think of something. I think they like it cause no one has complained yet.”


Eleen Cansino

Eleen Cansino, Spanish Teacher, SCA

“It was wonderful having my girls at home, and some of them were actually in their pajamas. They were so excited. We went through like sharing the screen in teams and things like that. We had presentations going on. So I had the majority of my students presenting online like that.”


Rocio Correa, Social Studies Teacher, SCA

“My main concern was to ensure that I have all of my girls’ attention. In the classroom, that is already something we have to vigilant about not having them gazing out. I had my list with me, and when to call them out, they answered “here Miss,” and they were immediately giving me my answers. I do think they had extra information that they were giving me the answers I wanted and more.”


Rocio Correa

Marleni Cuellar

“How do you know they’re not Googling their information?”


Rocio Correa

“…which I think that’s a positive thing because they are finding relevant information towards my lesson.”


Salome Tillett

“The limitations will be students thinking that they can trick the teacher and don’t have to be in class – they don’t know we are monitoring that. If the student has a problem with their data if there is a disruption at home. This is why we ask our teacher to come to school because at home you may been tempted to do something else and multitask and the same thing may apply to the students.”


Marleni Cuellar

“Is it your hope that it doesn’t get to that point where schools have to close?”


Salome Tillett

“Of course, as it is, we are looking at our seniors, and we have exempted them from this because they have such a short time ahead of them, and we don’t know if it will affect CXC exams.”


There’s no definitive plan for the closing of schools when and if there’s a confirmed case in Belize. But it is a new virus, and we are still learning about how it affects children. While people of any age can be infected, so far, there are relatively few cases of the disease reported among children. Currently, the advice from the Ministry of Health is to focus on hygiene and reducing transmission.


Kathleen Azueta Cho

Kathleen Azueta Cho, HECOPAB Technical Advisor, MOH

“In regards to schools and students, we are making recommendations and are advising the social distancing, any big crowds, minimize those events, sporting events, large assemblies, just to reduce the spread of germs.  We support the child’s learning if they’re feeling unwell, showing symptoms of flu it is recommended that they stay at home and recover and that way not spread the germs to other children and we emphasize the proper hygiene and hand washing.”


According to Principal Tillett, proper hand washing is the first phase of their preparedness plan.


Salome Tillett

“We have out science department. They will be teaching this student how to wash their hands properly. We have eight sinks, and the kids will go there, and they will learn how to ask their nails, back of the hands, thumbs, etc. as per the advice of the World Health Organization.”


Today’s test run will be followed up by surveys with the students, parents, and teachers. Next Tuesday, the third form classes will have a test run, and next Friday, all the first second and third formers, as well as teachers, will test run another cyber-school day.

Marleni Cuellar

“What grade would you give this experience today?”


Rocio Correa

“Today, definitely one hundred percent.”

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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