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Apr 13, 2021

Teachers Prepare for Students to Return to School Amid COVID-19

The initial phase of a two-part rollout for students and teachers to return to their respective classrooms is underway and the Ministry of Education has given the go-ahead for fifty-five schools to reopen by April nineteenth.  This morning, News Five visited several schools, including kindergarten, primary and secondary levels, to witness firsthand the preparations that are being made ahead of the resumption of classes.  News Five’s Isani Cayetano reports.


Isani Cayetano, Reporting

The reopening of some schools, a little over a year after being abruptly closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, is a measured step in the right direction.  It has become necessary for students to receive face-to-face tuition, despite the dangers of the dreaded disease.  On Wednesday morning, a little over one hundred and seventy students, from first to fourth form, will return to Edward P. Yorke High School and all arrangements are being put in place for them to do so safely.


Karen Canto

Karen Canto, Principal, E.P. Yorke High School

“First of all, the return to school is optional and we chose to bring back mainly our students that were failing, [those who] were not doing well.  We looked at their grades in first term, we looked at their grades in second term and if they were not where we wanted them to be, they were students coming back.  And again, it is even optional for the parents to send them.”


Around campus, final preparations are underway for students to remain physically distant, as well as for them to practice proper hand hygiene, in and outside of their classrooms.  That includes floor markers being placed at equal distance.  The reopening, nonetheless, means that additional steps also need to be taken at the administrative level.


Karen Canto

“We have a system set up where there will be eleven adults on the campus, eight teachers and three administrators every day.  So the teachers get to rotate and they will literally have in their classrooms in front of them, nine to ten kids in a room and those kids are there with their devices all connected to the internet and they will be doing their respective work and the teacher is there to monitor that it is being done.”


Across town, at Wesley Lower School, teachers are also busy preparing ahead of next Monday’s start.  Of the three hundred and sixty-one students enrolled here, a recent poll indicates that ninety percent of the population is ready to come back.


Pamela Baird

Pamela Baird, Vice Principal, Wesley Lower School

“On Friday, we got a visit from the Ministry of Education and they came in to do the routine inspection with the checklist that they had previously sent to us and we have been given the green light.  So we are now ready to open and our scheduled date to open is April nineteenth which is Monday.”


Wesley is one of six primary schools in Belize District to have received the approval of the Ministry of Education to proceed with reopening, only that they will be doing so at the end of the academic year.


Pamela Baird

“So the teachers came in and they are putting in the three feet social distancing in their classroom in terms of where the kids should be seated.  They are getting together their cleaning supplies and all the activities, the pre-assessment that they will be given on Monday throughout the entire week for next week.  They are getting together their procedures, their routine and so forth, everything that they would normally do on a Monday in September, that is what we will be doing on April nineteenth.”


While those classrooms are yet to see any activity, over at Lloyd Coffin Preschool, kindergartners are already engaged in learning.  Monday was their first day of school and their teachers were all ready to meet them.


Gwendolyn Jones

Gwendolyn Jones, Head Teacher, Lloyd Coffin Preschool

“We reduced our numbers so that we didn’t have to have shifts.  So we have forty students coming in in the divided by ten. The measures that we took to have our babies back in school, we had to change all our tables and made them circles so that we could have four children around a table.  We have to do the markers for them to know where to stand.  We installed basins in the different classrooms and outside.”


Isani Cayetano

“What has it been like for the past two days?  I know it’s almost a year, if not over a year, since you guys were last in the classroom administering lessons.”


Gwendolyn Jones

“It was a joyous time for us to have our babies actually back in our classrooms with us.  We were kinda skeptical, wondering how they would adjust after being home but it went very well.”


Reporting for News Five, I am Isani Cayetano.

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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