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Jan 10, 2022

Some Show, Some Don’t: Mixed Response to School Re-openings

A number of schools across the country officially reopened today to hybrid learning, as prescribed by the Ministry of Education. Despite hundreds of schools receiving approval for this approach, many others have asked for extensions and as we saw today, some schools were scanty. A News Five crew stopped in at several schools on the north and south sides of Belize City where the reality for some of these schools differs for several reasons. Duane Moody files this report. 


Duane Moody, Reporting

After almost two years away from the classroom and not a student in sight, today, a group of students were finally able to set foot on campus – some of them for the first time since starting high school while for others it was a return to some sense of normalcy. At Saint Catherine Academy, there are specific guidelines and safety protocols that were put in place to help with this transition.


Salome Tillett

Salome Tillett, Principal, Saint Catherine Academy

“We are excited to have the kids here. We realize that for many of them it’s their first day back at school. If you are in second form, you have never been on campus. So today was their first day. You know, first day excitement, parents letting go if they are first formers. So it was quiet an exciting day for us. We are using the hybrid, which is different from blended. Hybrid means we are teaching the ones both at home and in class at the same time, synchronously, whilst blended would mean you are teaching the ones on campus and the ones at home are working on their own. We have both groups working together with the teacher. So, the kids do need to have a device with them and the teacher is trying to reach both groups at the same time. We have a third that wants to remain online successfully and if they had a G.P.A of three point zero or more then they had that option. And then we have another third who chose to come in Monday and Tuesday, and the third group, just about even, decided they would come in on Wednesday’s and Thursday. So the kids who were struggling at home, who don’t have a quiet place, a safe space, reliable internet, they had to come in.”


In the case of Pallotti High School, that institution had issued a statement over the weekend that their reopening to hybrid learning was pushed back another week.  But students were on site at other campuses, including Nazarene and Maud Williams High Schools. Principal Deborah Domingo explains their respective approach where first and second formers will come in on Mondays and Tuesdays, while third and fourth formers are scheduled for Wednesdays and Thursdays.


Deborah Domingo

Deborah Domingo, Principal, Maud Williams High School

“The efforts very earlier on was to find out how many of our students are ill or were ill during the break and if they have members of their household who are currently in quarantine or self-isolating or who have tested positive or have flu-like symptoms. So we kinda examined the lay of the land and that’s what we did. The next step was look at what are the factors that could help us to be a little bit more safe as we come together for face-to-face. And so we decided we were going to look at ways to reduce the number of students who were on campus all at the same time. That we would look at sanitizing protocols and augment those and we also looked at ways that we could shorten the school day so that there’s beside a smaller group, a shorter period of time that they would be together. We looked at how students were progressing up to the last two weeks of the semester; that’s where we are now and selected those subject areas where we thought students a little bit of assistance and more of the one-on-one. So those are the subjects we scheduled while we kept the others as remote learning experiences.”


St. Luke’s Methodist did not open to hybrid learning for several reasons including the lack of resources. We are told, however, that they, like many other institutions, will reopen on January seventeenth in a phased approach, meaning with the standard-six class first on campus and then transitioning to the lower division. All Saint Anglican Primary School will also reopen next week, but with all grades coming back to campus for hybrid learning through a shift system.


Colin Estrada

Colin Estrada, Principal, All Saints Primary School

“We applied for an extension and we have been granted that extension until the seventeenth and so during this week, we are doing the final touches on the compound. And also during this week, we will be having our PTA meetings with parents to be able to deal with some of their anxieties. At any given time, we are going to be having half of the school so it is going to be Monday/Wednesday and Tuesday/Thursday – that is what we are going to be looking at.”


Duane Moody

“That will be complemented with online glasses?”


Colin Estrada

“That will also be complemented whereby because we have the Google Suite, teachers will be able to post for the students, the work that they need to be able to do in that time and we also have the learning packages that will also go out.”


Over at Saint John Vianney Primary School, the reality was different. They resumed classes today, but with a much smaller student population. While all grades were back, the upper division students showed up.  In the lower division, however, the turnout of students was dismal. Principal Felix Sutherland says the reasons vary.


Felix Sutherland

Felix Sutherland, Principal, St. John Vianney Primary School

“I was impressed with the upper classes; they were almost where they planned to be. As we get to the lower classes, the numbers dwindled and in some cases, we have only one student in at least one class. The reason being some have COVID; some are in isolation because their family members have COVID; some were not financially prepared to send their children at this time and the others, parents are afraid to send their children at this time. It means that we will have to dig deep as educators, we will have to work doubly hard, we will have to get out everything that we were trained for and in some cases, not trained for because we will have to self-educate and we will be stretched thin because teaching a batch Monday/Wednesday and a batch Tuesday/Thursday, in addition to providing assignment guidelines for those days that they are away from us will require extra work.”


Duane Moody for News Five.

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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