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May 21, 2020

Ministries of Health and Education Talk Schools & COVID-19

Marvin Manzanero

While the country continues to relax its measures and open up back the economy, the same can’t be said for schools. Students are still at home doing online classes, but no face to face lessons.  And so far, a date hasn’t been set to determine when school will re-open.  But the discussions are being held about what that will look like when it happens.  Director of Health Services, Doctor Marvin Manzanero says that the Ministry of Health has had some preliminary discussions with education officials.  Among the issues discussed were the reopening and the hundreds of students from Guatemala who attend school in Belize. But what will it look it look like when classes resume? Will there be physical distancing or masks worn inside the classrooms?  Doctor Manzanero says they have discussed these things and have offered advice based on the public health aspects, but that ultimately, the Ministry of Education will make decisions.


Dr. Marvin Manzanero, Director of Health Services

“We had a first discussion with the C.E.O. and other managers of the different management systems in the schools last week Friday and there is one tomorrow afternoon, virtual session because there are many unknowns as you re-open. For example, one of the topics that I discussed with the Ministry of Education is what happens with the schools that are in the Cayo area, for example, that has a huge influx of people coming from Melchor and further all the way up to Flores who come to school on a daily basis. I don’t know when school opens whether that would be possible. I think we need to inform the people on that side, at this point in time. When I was in Corozal, I found out that there are people who come from Chetumal to school here but the numbers are about ten percent of what comes from across the Guatemala border.  Again, I don’t know that that is going to be a possibility right now because we can’t safeguard people that are coming from outside. The other topic is the issue of masks whether we will be asking young children to wear a mask. One of the recommendations that came up on that day, again this is an evolving process,  was that children perhaps will be more likely and more safer for them to use a face shield because it allows for a better breathing process and also because it prevents children from touching their face. We discussed that schools will need better hand-washing stations, better cleaning of bathroom facilities; the school calendar may change and we had tossed out the idea of them opening earlier in August or July even because your entire  system is thrown out.”

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