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Sep 5, 2022

Day One of Primary School

For the first time in three years, school bells rang and the full complement of the student population filed into classrooms at primary schools across Belize today, to mark the start of the school year. The last time they’ve reported to school for day one with a hundred percent attendance was September 2019. News Five’s Marion Ali visited a north side, as well as a south side school and Stella Maris School in Belize City to get a pulse of how day one went. Here’s that report.


Marion Ali, Reporting

After a lengthy lockdown by COVID, today, primary school students turned out en masse for classes for the 2022-23 school year. It is the first time since the deadly virus disrupted life that the children were back in their seats altogether. Over at Grace Primary on the south side and at All Saints, on the north side, principals told News Five that day one was nothing short of sheer happiness.


Diane Garnett

Diane Garnett, Principal, Grace Primary School

“Grace Primary Amara campus was never this busy, was never so full of energy for a long, long time.”


Colin Estrada

Colin Estrada, Principal, All Saints Primary School

“It has been bustling with energy. Parents are excited, students are excited, teachers are excited, administration excited because it’s a new year and so everybody was excited to be back.”


But amidst the excitement of seeing all their fellow classmates and friends in one setting, the way they did before the pandemic swept through, children must also now adhere to strict safety protocols in order to avoid another pause imposed by the same virus. Principals for All Saints and Grace Primary, respectively, Colin Estrada and Diane Garnett:


Colin Estrada

“We still have the safety protocols in effect. Parents and students have to use masks. They have to be able to spread out and also they have to wash their hands. We still have those in effect.”


Diane Garnett

“Each group of children has a zone, so they walk within that zone. Zone one would be the infants, they use the main gate and they wash hands, sanitize there. And even the teachers from each class have their own sanitization stations, so they have their wash hand basins and all of that. Everybody has to wear their masks. You have to wash your hands and all of that at the gate.”


But a major part of the 2022 school year will focus on catching up with the children’s educational advancement that was hindered for the past two years. Catching up for these students will likely mean extra time on campus.


Diane Garnett

“We do diagnostic testing this week so that the teachers can assess where their students are. We sat down prior to this and talked about interventions, so we have an idea of what we want to do but we have to see exactly where they are so that we know where to go. We’ll do evening classes. For the Upper (division) definitely they’ll go back to their Saturday classes and morning classes as well. So a lot of that is going to be what will make a difference.”


Colin Estrada

“We know that there’s a deficit. That’s why we’ll have drills and the new curriculum, which is competency–based.”


For students at Stella Maris School, Principal, Francelia Cantun says the rotation that the school entered into having some students on certain days and the rest on other days helped them to remain in the loop with their lessons. Now that everyone is back in the classroom together, the focus will have to be on each child individually.


Francelia Cantun, Principal, Stella Maris School

“We would take maybe a learning outcome, one in reading, one in math, maybe in different areas and we would break it down and modify it to meet their needs so from there we would set benchmarks like at the end of maybe this month the child is supposed to be doing this. So we break it down so that we can meet their individual needs.”


With COVID vaccinations now in country and the existing strain not seen as one that is life-threatening, the hope is that the rest of the school year will remain as promising as it began. Marion Ali 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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